Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Youth Volunteers are taking action this summer

As the summer officially starts we are also approaching the closing months of what the United Nations (UN) officially declared as the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. Young leaders from around the globe have taken the past year as an opportunity to express their desire to be heard and their willingness to be active members of their communities. These efforts will not cease because classes are over or its summer time. On the contrary, children and young adults are volunteering abroad, aiding those affected by natural disaster, or participating in local community service programs throughout the summer.

In Costa Rica eight international students are rebuilding local schools as part of a civic engagement program called Global Volunteers. This is a private non-profit organization engaging volunteers in micro-economic and human development projects worldwide. As part of this program, eight students are using social media to record their efforts through blog posts and photo galleries.

In the Philippines a record number of 1,600 youth volunteers answered Habitat for Humanity Philippines‘ call to participate in their ‘1K for 1 Day’ program. A diverse group of students coming from international schools, universities, and local entities built the foundation of 80 houses in one day. Ricky Jacinto, HFH Philippines’ CEO, said: “It’s never too early or too late for nation-building. It’s time we (adults) learn from them”, when referring to the youth volunteers.

On a larger scale, students from all over the world are using their knowledge and expertise to improve their communities. In Mexico, for example, more than 400 education majors are being trained to become ‘Community Tutors’. With the support of local government agencies, these future educators will be tutoring more than 1,000 children in preschool, primary and secondary schools who are in risk of failing the school year.

The United States has also made a pledge to serve the country and communities this summer as part of the ‘United We Serve’ project. President Obama asked volunteers to develop their own projects and lay a foundation for growth. Recognizing that at least 55% of youth volunteer in the USA, this summer they are cleaning the streets, building green areas and park trails, or raising funds for those in need.

ICP also supports Summer of Service (SOS) projects engaging students in service-learning projects during the summer months. Check out the findings on participant outcomes for the 2010 Summer of Service pilots here. Additional resources for Summer of Service initiatives are available on the SOS Resource Center. A study conduct by the Corporation for National & Community Service concluded that youth who volunteer are more likely to do better in their academic development and influence other family members to engage in similar activities. These young inspiring individuals are having a positive, sustainable impact in their communities, and gaining valuable skills to incorporate in their transition to adulthood.

If you are looking for volunteer opportunities this summer here are some options:




What you are doing this summer? Tell us in the comments below!

Friday, June 3, 2011

College graduates taking a gap year to volunteer instead of going into the work force

As the Class of 2011 enters into “the real world” many are not going straight into the work force, but instead are joining different organizations and taking a “gap year” to volunteer all over the world. Some take this gap year to take the time to figure out what they would like to do post-university. Others take this time to fulfill a calling to volunteer.

In these programs graduates have the opportunity to volunteer in a particular area that suits their interests. Many organizations have programs such as: teaching, environment and conservation, animal care, human rights and health care.

The National Civilian Conservation Corps (NCCC), a branch of AmeriCorps, is a popular program for people looking to take a gap year. One project that the NCCC was a part of was planning a Christmas party for 500 victims of Hurricane Katrina. The volunteers, whom were taking a gap year, took donations of Christmas presents from all over the country and set up a teen club aboard a cruise ship where the victims were staying. The volunteers organized the holiday party with gifts, decorations, music and holiday cheer.

Another reason college graduate turn to a gap year is because of the unavailability of jobs. This gap year is not considered a year without work. Graduates are able to put this experience on their resume and gives them an advantage when applying to jobs the next year.

The South Asia Peace Alliance has many programs abroad for volunteers all over the world. They support volunteers engaged in community development efforts. Their programs include one to volunteer in Africa. These programs allow graduates to indulge into the culture of their particular country and give back to the community that is hosting them. For example, many volunteers build roads in African countries enabling easier access to water and other necessities.

The Peace Corps, a well known program throughout the world, is one that many college graduates join. College graduates can commit to two years with the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps has programs in 77 different countries, placing participants in programs that match their skills.

A gap year takes a lot of consideration. The experience is one like you will never have! More information about gap year opportunities are available online through organizations such as Global Citizen Year and Serve.gov.

Have you taken a gap year? Tell us your story in the comments below! If you haven’t taken a gap year, let us know your thoughts and if you plan on taking one!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Many Americans are stepping up to help those affected by natural disasters at home

A twister in Joplin, Mo., killing over 120 people and record breaking floods up and down the Mississippi River have volunteers from all over the United States helping with recovery efforts. Volunteers with many different organizations are traveling to different disaster sites helping out where they can.

In Mississippi a group of college-age volunteers who are part of the National Civilian Community Corps, a program within AmeriCorps, have been working diligently on preparing towns up and down the Mississippi River for the inevitable flooding.

Many of the volunteers from the NCCC were helping with Hurricane Katrina recovery when the reports of flooding along the Mississippi River came in. About 100 volunteers were transferred to Vicksburg, Miss., to begin preparing for the impending flood. They have been making sand bags for residents and businesses to protect them from the rising water. AmeriCorps also sent a specially trained emergency team to help with the disaster in Joplin, Mo. Their help along with other volunteers and organizations have led to the rescue of nine people.

Other organizations are also transferring volunteers to different parts of the country to help with the recent tornados that have hit Joplin, Mo. The Red Cross continues to help victims in the storm ravaged south and the flooding of the Mississippi River, but has transferred volunteers to Joplin, Mo. to help with the destruction that was caused by the deadliest tornado in the US in 64 years.

According to Memphis, Tenn. WREG News Channel 3, volunteers have been transferred many times during these spring months. Kathy Maloney, a retired nurse volunteering for the Red Cross, has been transferred from Tuscaloosa, Al., to Memphis, Tenn., and is now being sent to Joplin, Mo. to help where she is needed. Maloney and other volunteers of the Red Cross establish shelters for those who have been displaced because of these disasters. In Joplin, Mo. Red Cross volunteers set up a shelter at a local high school that was not harmed during the tornados. Theses shelters give those with nowhere to go a place to stay.

The United Animal Nations, a California based non-profit group, also contributed to the response effort in the recent disasters, by establishing shelters for displaced pets whose owners have disappeared. The UAN helps rescue workers by placing animals in shelters so they do not hamper the rescue and recovery efforts.

Residents in Pittsburg, Pa. loaded trucks with supplies to deliver to Joplin. College athletes and other volunteers from Pittsburg State University have been sorting and taking donations. These volunteers loaded 14 pallets of supplies for those affected by the tornados.

People from across the country have helped by donating their time, money, supplies and resources. These disasters have brought people together through volunteering. Visit the Red Cross Website to help with the relief efforts! Already involved? Tell us your story in the comment below!

Picture 1: Creative Commons- Chicago Public Media

Picture 2: Creative Commons-John T. Pilot

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Young Volunteers of Japan

The Young Volunteers of Japan

Volunteering isn’t a large part of Japanese culture, and the young especially may be considered by some as lazy and “lost”. However, in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, young people have stepped up and taken the lead in rebuilding their country, changing views of their generation in the process.

Young people around Japan have traveled north to volunteer. In Tome, Miyagi, a northern Japanese city, a group of young college women from Tokyo helped by folding and distributing children’s clothing.

Young people in Japan started a non-profit group called Youth for 3.11. Their primary goal is to send college students and young adults to the Tohoku region of Japan to help with the relief efforts. They have had over 1,800 students register to volunteer.

Tohoku Rising is another new youth organization that has flourished due to the recent earthquakes and tsunamis. They have utilized social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to organize relief donations. In addition they have sent volunteers to the Tohoku region.

Not only are these young people helping by raising funds and distributing clothing, food and water, they are interacting with the residents of the affected areas. They are doing this in order to better suit the needs of those affected in the long run. Young people in Japan have made a point that they will be here beyond the immediate relief efforts.

These young people have gone against stereotypes and have proven that they will be a presence in years to come. Are you doing something to support Japan’s recovery efforts and other countries in crisis in the years to come? Let us know by commenting below!

Photo by: Creative Commons
Username: Kianno

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Billion Acts of Green

April 22, 2011 is the 41st anniversary of Earth Day. This year’s theme, “A Billion Acts of Green”, aims to get everyone involved in environmental advocacy and service.

Earth day was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Horrified by the environmental devastation wreaked by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill (a spill which, for the record, was far smaller than the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill), Senator Nelson sought to capitalize on the mobilizing power of college students to seek environmental change.

Originally, Earth Day was to be a day of teaching and environmental advocacy, but it has grown into a day of service as well. Young people around the globe have dedicated their time and energy to helping better the earth, both on Earth Day and year-round. The Student Conservation Association (SCA), for example, has over 4,000 interns and volunteers who provide more than two million hours of conservation service per year and is sponsoring several Earth Day events.

But what can you do to get involved in Earth Day? A lot! Attend an Earth Day event in your area, or make a pledge to turn off your lights, take the bus or carpool to work, or call your representative about environmental issues. Even just going to your local park and cleaning up trash is helpful! A great thing you can do for Earth Day, however, is to celebrate it every day. The environment doesn’t just need our projection one day a year, it needs it every day. Making small changes in your life can do far more for the environment than attending a one-day event (though we certainly encourage that as well!).

Here at ICP, we strongly support Earth Day and the environmental movement. We are advocates of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and other strategies for expanding opportunities for environment-focused youth service, and have created the Green Youth Service Resource Center to help compile publications, news and funding opportunities for environment-focused youth service. If you have any additional information for our resource center, email us at info@icicp.org or, as always, just let us know in the comments!


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