Engaging Youth Ages 8 to 12 as Volunteers: An Opportunity for Youth Development?

Charlene S. Shannon, Brenda J. Robertson

Abstract


Many youth programs are delivered to provide opportunities for youth to acquire the assets deemed essential to their development into caring, responsible adults. Engaging as a volunteer is considered an experience that provides access to the acquisition of key developmental assets. To date, research has focused on the positive outcomes that can result for adolescent volunteers with little attention being paid to volunteers younger than age 15. This research explored whether and in what ways being a volunteer contributed to the development of youth ages 8 to 12. Interviews were conducted with 73 Boys and Girls Club youth and seven Club Executive Directors in Atlantic Canada. Results indicated that volunteering offered youth an opportunity to serve their communities, care for its members, and feel valued. Younger youth also developed various skills and experienced enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2007.351

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