While it looks good on applications, the benefits of volunteering reach beyond gaining skills and experience.
Research shows the more teens volunteer the happier they are. By increasing awareness of the needs of others, teens build empathy, improve self-esteem and strengthen social bonds. Gaining a greater sense of gratitude and hope helps teens combat stress, anxiety and depression.
“Grateful people experience fewer toxic emotions and more positive ones,” said Lori Tinkham, PLMHP, CHI Health licensed mental health practitioner. “This helps make them better able to cope, less stressed, more satisfied with the simple things in life and have a greater appreciation of what they have been given, as well as others around them.”
According to one study, teens who give back markedly decrease their involvement in at-risk behaviors like underage drinking. Another study shows teen volunteers experience a steep drop in risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including cholesterol levels and body mass index.
If your teen needs a little boost or is just bored, suggest volunteering. Who knows? The life they change could be their own.