Janet Fox | 4/7/2006 1:45:00 AM
Youth across the nation will observe National and Global Youth Service Day April 21-23 with service and civic activities.
Youth Service Day is designed to unleash the passion and idealism of young people, ages 5-25, according to LSU AgCenter 4-H youth volunteer expert Dr. Janet Fox. It is the largest service event in the world.
"Youth Service Day mobilizes young people to identify and address community needs through service and supports youth on a life-long path of service and civic engagement," Fox says. At the same time, it educates the public about the role of youth as leaders and assets.
National Youth Service Day projects address important social needs, such as relief for hurricane victims, underserved youth, the environment, the elderly and other vulnerable audiences. It also is a natural time to celebrate year-round successes, recognize excellence and kick off new efforts.
Youth Service America, which conducts the event, estimates that the value of service carried out on National Youth Service Day exceeds $171 million. The organization’s estimates are based on Independent Sector value of service. Independent Sector is a coalition of corporations, foundations and private voluntary organizations that works to strengthen America's nonprofit organizations. Its studies show that youth volunteers are three times more likely to volunteer as adults.
Not only do communities benefit from volunteer youths, teens cite personal rewards from volunteering. They learn to respect others and how to be helpful and kind. They gain a better understanding of people who differ from them. They develop leadership skills and a better understanding of good citizenship.
So why are youth volunteering at record numbers? Independent Sector research cites several reasons: youth feel compassion for people in need; they feel they can do something for a cause in which they believe; and they believe that if they help others, others will help them.
The Teenage Marketing and Lifestyle study by Teenage Research Unlimited shows teens rank volunteering, the environment and eating healthy as top three activities they consider "cool." In a Princeton Study, 73 percent of young people think their efforts can have a positive effect on their communities.
For information on related youth and family topics, click on the 4-H clover at the AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
Source: Janet Fox (225) 578-6751, or Jfox@agcenter.lsu.edu