In today’s environment, many teens volunteer out of concern for their resumes. However, there are other benefits of volunteering as a teen. Teens who volunteer create a win-win situation for themselves and the communities they serve. Teens who volunteer are 50% less likely to abuse cigarettes, become pregnant, or engage in other destructive behavior. They learn to respect and help others and are likely to have a strong work ethic as adults. Teen who volunteer are also three times more likely to volunteer as adults and contribute to charitable organizations.
Additionally, recent research has found that teens who volunteer show significantly lower markers for cardiovascular disease risk, including body mass index and cholesterol levels when compared with students in a control group. The teens who increased the most in empathy and altruistic behaviors, and who decreased the most in negative mood, also showed the greatest decrease in their cardiovascular disease risk. The study was done by researchers at several institutions and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.(JAMA)
Psychologists at the University of California in Riverside and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found that preteens who performed “acts of kindness” reported improved levels of happiness and received higher levels of social acceptance among their peers. The authors of this study speculated that performing kind acts might reduce the likelihood a child will be bullied.
With so much emphasis on teens’ risky behaviors, it is interesting to note that constructive social factors, such as volunteering, have a positive effect on teen health and well being. Since many adults hold negative beliefs about teenagers, teens who volunteer are also providing an opportunity for different generations to work together for a common goal as well as creating an opportunity for mutual understanding. The positive effects of teens’ volunteering impact the community as well as the individual teen.