Make no mistake about it—young people today do care about their world and communities, and they want to make a difference. Sometimes they just need a little push. Here are some great ideas to help them transform their inspiration and motivatiovolunteering, giving back, community, communerosity, helping hand, helping outn into positive action—and become active CommunerosiTEENs:

Find meaningful causes. It starts with one question: “What do you want to change about your world?” Maybe it’s cleaning up a beach or a park, or raising recycling awareness. Perhaps it’s spending time with seniors, or tutoring younger kids. There are so many possibilities, and a volunteering opportunity exists for nearly every one.

Commitment-phobic? Start with short-term, big-time impact. Young people are busy (like us grown-ups), but participating in a single event (a food drive, a clean-up, a painting or building project) can spark the volunteer spirit.

Make it fun. Fun usually means “get a bunch of friends together.” Sports teams, school clubs and, of course, scouting or church groups are ready-made volunteer crews.

Lead by example. As a parent, it’s all well and good to say, “You really should…” but you’ve got to walk it like you talk it. Don’t expect your kids to do something you won’t—and do get involved in their activities.

Reinforce the real-world benefits. Beyond the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from doing good, young people can get a lot more out of volunteering:

  • New skills, whether it’s working with tools or with people
  • Networking and references they’ll be glad to have when applying for jobs or colleges
  • Experience in meeting commitments, which demonstrates admirable character
  • And for some high school students, fulfillment of graduation requirements

Show the “before” and “after” of their project. People of all ages feel great when they see the difference they make, and they’re motivated to do more.

Say “thank you.” Everyone wants to be appreciated. Sincere gratitude is priceless and free, so spread it around—it’s one of the most powerful motivators there is.

When young people get involved in their communities, it can be the start of a lifetime of Communerosity. Pen Air has more great ideas on how they—and you—can make a difference.