Getting young people involved in the community, or getting them to volunteer can prove to be a hard task for many – although people perceive youth have more time on their hands, they actually are busy in their own ways, whether it’s juggling family commitments, a social life, university, high school, further study, work, an apprenticeship, young people have lives too. So how can you make the idea of volunteering or getting involved in community a bit more attractive to them?
The stereotype suggests that young people of the 21st century are always looking into the ‘What’s In It For Me’. Although I believe in our own ways, we ALL look for this same thing no matter what we sign up to, use this knowledge as an incentive for them – spell out what others have got out of contributing to the community – did they get fame in a newspaper article, extra credit in their workplace, did their time volunteering get them a job because they mentioned this in passing at a job interview? Spell out the success stories to young people you’re trying to get involved, and dig deep to find out what might stimulate them to help you in your community cause, club, or activity.
Do they want to have an edge when applying for their next job? Offer to get the organiser to write a testimonial for their hard work after the project is complete.
Do they want to get out there and meet more people? Tell them about the diverse group of people they will get to meet!
Do they want to give back to the community? Get the media involved, and get them to write an article about everyone involved in the community project/group, and remember to give the young person a copy of the article to remember their ‘giving back’ to stimulate them to do more of it!
There are countless ways of how you can entice younger people to get involved. The challenge really is when you, as the initiator of getting younger people involved in community projects has to make getting involved to be more interesting than Facebook or Xbox (what young people will have to give up in order to get involved in the community), but remember to spell out the social, societal, environmental, recognition, awareness, fitness, advantage aspects that they will receive if and when they get involved with you. Get out there, get talking to young people, talk to them in supermarkets, talk to them on Facebook, talk to them at their schools – just find them, encourage them, and see what magic unfolds…
Author of ‘You shut Up’