Archive | November, 2010

My New Favourite Youth Action Ideas

12 Nov
As a professional working with youth volunteers in a number of arenas I recently found myself highly interested in a fresh perspective of innovative youth engagement. Thanks to the Twitterverse I’ve stumbled upon some incredible and unique ways youth are becoming engaged as activists, public educators, and fundraisers. These are just a few examples of activities that have harnessed incredible momentum motivating youth into action.
1) Engagement Through Social Media
This video shared with me by as part of their Digital U series champions social media as the tool of choice for youth to find innovative ways to do something about a cause they wish to support. Despite some concerns that social media is a more disconnected and less meaningful way for youth to get involved, the support harnessed through participation via social media is irrefutable. Unique stories of involvement with social media are highlighted. 
2) Empowering Youth Through the Arts
This GTA partnership among youth-for-youth action groups produced an innovative toolkit with creative ways youth have raised awareness about HIV/AIDS. A noteable favourite is Fashioning Change: A Youth Inspired Fashion Show (starting on pg 14).
3) Making Youth Famous for Doing Good
An explosive example of youth participation in the United States is Think MTV, connecting youth with unique volunteer projects supported by celebrities with a diverse host of the most well known, and some lesser known organizations. Recognizing that most youth have a desire to do something meaningful for the world yet so few are able to put their iseas into action, the pillars of this project are motivation – through multiple forms of meaninful and powerful support, recognition – by acknowledging youth who act as “rock stars,” and accessibility – by providing youth with the tools to act online. Whether connected to a major media hub like MTV or not, many organizations are successfully using social media tools today to recognize their youth volunteers as the rock stars that they are.   
4) Youth Doing Good for the Famous
Many celebrities have been positive role models for youth by encouraging them to support their own foundation or another organization supporting an issue that they are most passionate about. I give kudos to Ian Somerhalder (LOST, The Vampire Diaries) for engaging his fan base and fellow environment-minded Twitter community in the upcoming launch of the IS Foundation by placing a call out to bloggers for support. As assumed from his thank you message to those following him in the Twitterverse, the response rate from those willing to help was a huge success!
5) Celebrating Youth
In the spirit of recognizing youth engagement, the United Nations dedicated August 2010-2011 the UN International Year of Youth. The framework and examples of participation can be found on the website. Celebrating youth is one way to show commitment to young volunteers that is carried out by many organizations.

Indirect Service Volunteering – Pursuing Strategies for Understanding Outcomes

5 Nov

After a long vacation away from my blog I return in awe of all I have learned about indirect service or “macro-volunteering” in my academic and work environments. One remarkable finding is that reflection exercises, guided by the appropriate probing questions can help volunteers become more clear about the outcomes of their indirect service work. Guided reflection can help volunteers visualize how their service outputs travel through the channels of all of their target stakeholders to reach their intended clients.

Volunteers engaging in reflection exercises to become more clear about their work is one goal of Community Service Learning at Wilfrid Laurier University. While I am impressed by the demonstrated success of the Community Service Learning model, I find myself hungry for more examples of the tools and strategies that organizations working with indirect service volunteers use to make the outcomes of macro-level service volunteering  more clear. I encourage readers of this post to share those strategies.