Teaching Children the Joy of Volunteering
School holidays in Australia are very long, and children are usually boarded up at home with their devices or sent to expensive holiday programs so that the parents can focus on their work. Engaging with local community groups and joining in on volunteer work was our solution to the neighbourhood children’s pent up energies and pricey holiday programs. There was always so much variety in the types of activities we could participate in, and the children always learnt so much because of all the specialists and enthusiasts who had wonderful knowledge to share. It was easy for the children to forget that they were there as volunteers because they got so much joy from the tasks and learning they did. At tree planting or gardening working bees, the children always enjoyed getting their hands dirty, and their yearly contributions meant that they could see the fruits of their hard work in the growth of the plants. Doing rubbish collecting together or helping younger children with crafts helped them to make friends and see the benefit of helping each other. Contributing to the community by volunteering became a holiday activity that everyone looked forward to, because of how enjoyable and fun it always was.
Our Community Partners
Different organisations and activities we have attended or volunteered with:
- Friends of Mount Majura Working Bees and Rubbish Collecting
- Youth with a Mission (YWAM) Community Floriade and Xmas Party
- Majura Primary School P&C Working Bees
- Youth Advisory Council (YAK) Youth Assembly
- Lyneham Commons Working Bees and Activity Days
- Watson Community Association (WCA) Community Consultations, Meetings, and Workshops
- Bushwalk at Jerrabomberra Wetlands
Advocacy and Connection to Community
Over the past several years, Living Streets Youth has partnered with local community group, Watson Community Association, to tackle the issue of non-community focused development in the suburb. Watson is already a relatively bigger suburb than most in the Inner North of Canberra, but with the rapid population growth from large developments, original amenities such as carparking, schools, and the shops built back in the 1960s are in dire need of an upgrade. In efforts to advocate for development that puts the community’s needs first, we have done public consultations with the community to collect ideas and data on needs, attended meetings with community groups, and created a submission for the government representing the youth of Living Streets. Our goals were to increase awareness of what was going on in the neighbourhood, encourage residents to raise their voices and concerns to the government, and assist the WCA with their preparations of a formal submission for the Sustainable Future Development of Watson. As a result of the many years of commitment from Watson residents, the government has recognised the strong advocacy in the area and have developed ways to better consult with our community.
From working on this long term community project, the young people have gained an expanse of knowledge and experience that is difficult to get anywhere else. Because of their childhood memories in the area and their attachment to the people and place, the young people had their sense of community and willingness to contribute ignited. Working with a community organisation that deals with larger scale community issues, government and politics, and social welfare gave them real life lessons about topics of urban development, community engagement, policy, education, and sustainability. During the public consultations, the young people were able to practice important social skills like exchanging ideas and listening to people, connecting with their neighbours, and raising awareness about important issues. There were even some difficult situations where some residents would be more heated about their opinion, but the young people learnt to convey their goal of collecting opinions of the community rather than standing for either side. This taught them how to respectfully deal with opposition and listen to opinions from all sides.
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