What Makes a Middle Level Student Want to Volunteer?
Like the rest of us, middle school students have a lot of things competing for their attention. So what differentiates the ones who decide to turn their focus to volunteering?
Every year, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program works with middle and high schools across the country to identify and celebrate America's top youth volunteers—and the stories of recent middle level honorees offer some insight on what makes young teenagers decide to give back.
Some experience success and decide to "pay it forward"
- After winning a 4-H cookie-baking contest, Rashad Holmes decided to turn his talent into a business called "Little Chef." The business took off, and Rashad used the proceeds to pay school and after-school activity fees for kids from low-income families.
- Alexandria Hunter won $35 in a photography contest. She used the prize money to create "birthday bags"—reusable bags filled with cake mix, candles, and other party supplies—so struggling families didn't have to forgo proper birthday celebrations.
Some discover they can use their hobbies to help others
- Morgan Barron, a Girl Scout and gardening lover, was troubled to read that one in seven children under 6 years old in her state go hungry every day. She helped create three gardens—one for a local food bank and two for community gardening—that provided the hungry with more than 1,500 pounds of fresh produce.
Some have personal experiences that make them aware of the struggles of others
- Growing up, Anne Hope Noel spent winters with an extra person at the dinner table: a relative who stayed with the Noels because she didn't have heat in her home. When Anne Hope learned there were others living in similar circumstances, she started a project called "Warm Hearts" to collect socks, blankets, hats, and gloves for people in need.
- After his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Anthony Frederick started selling lemonade to raise money for cancer research. He doubled his efforts when his father, too, was diagnosed with leukemia, and ended up raising thousands of dollars through his Kids Inspired by Cancer Kampaign (K.I.C.K.).
Are there students in your school who are volunteering? The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards celebrates the extraordinary volunteer service of young people. Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is the largest youth recognition program in the United States based exclusively on volunteer service. Since 1995, more than 100,000 young people have been recognized at the local, state, and national level for making a difference in their communities.
Applications for 2013 awards are open now through Nov. 6. More information is available at http://spirit.prudential.com and www.nassp.org/spirit.
Copyright © 2012 Association for Middle Level Education