The Importance of Youth Involvement in Community Activism and Volunteer Programs - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the December 1998 Juniper Berry Magazine

The Importance of Youth Involvement in Community Activism and Volunteer Programs

Timothy Higgins, Jr.

The importance of youth involvement in community affairs can not be stressed enough. These are two ways in which young people can get involved. The first is community activism. Young people have to realize that they have a right to express their views concerning community events. One contemporary issue which individuals can express their opinions is the 7-Eleven being built on Eliot Avenue. Young people can join others in the community to oppose this project. By protesting and boycotting the 7-Eleven, they would help the community to establish strong opposition. With young people joining this effort, a more diverse and thorough message will be sent to the owners of the 7-Eleven.

Anyone who attended Community Board 5's discussions regarding the Juniper Roller Hockey Rink would have seen how powerful young people can be. At the last meeting in which the rink was addressed, young people of all ages showed up to voice their support for the rink. Some individuals even addressed the board to articulate their support. By the youth standing up for a project which they wanted, they showed that they could have an impact on our communities' decision makers.

Another way in which young people can become involved in our community is through volunteerism. There are many opportunities for youth to get involved. There is the Auxiliary Police program as well as the Volunteer Ambulance Corps. These programs allow individuals an opportunity to learn skills while helping their community. There are also many opportunities to get involved in government. Young people can volunteer time and work with committees of the Community Board, they can even apply to become members of the Board. The offices of our local elected officials can usually benefit from the help of volunteers, as well as local political campaigns. All of these activities allow individuals to learn while they volunteer their time.

There are many other places where young people can become involved. These include churches, school programs, The Juniper Park Civic Association, and various other community groups. By getting involved, young people not only directly help the group they work with, but they take a great deal from the experience as well. Young people can develop many skills which will help when job hunting later in life. These skills include communication skills, responsibility, and work experience. All of these attributes will make individuals more competitive in the job market. Young people will also see that they can make a difference and help to influence events in the community. Young people can establish themselves as community leaders at an early age.