Youth engagement is a central principle of youth development. According to the ecological perspective of human development, young people are agents of their own development. Youth are more than passive recipients of external influences; instead they are actively involved in shaping their development by interacting with the people and opportunities made available within their environments.
Through youth engagement, communities can do a better job of creating theservices, opportunities, and supports that young people need to develop in healthy ways. Youth engagement offers community leaders the expertise and partnership of young people, helping adults fully understand what it is like to grow up in a rapidly changing world. From a political point of view, youth engagement is important because young people deserve the right to represent their own interests. Youth civic engagement is also critically important to prepare young people to be active citizens in a democracy.
Youth engagement is a win-win proposition.
Young people benefit by gaining skills, knowledge, self-esteem, and connectedness.
Adults benefit by enhancing their own competencies, learning to better understand and value youth, and increasing their commitment and energy to their organizations.
Organizations benefit by improving their programs, gaining community recognition, and attracting funders.
Communities benefit by improving quality of life, coordinating youth services, and authentically embracing diversity by representing young people.
Whether their kids are just starting kindergarten or entering the final year of high school, there are many good reasons for parents to volunteer at school. It's a great way to show your kids that you take an interest in their education, and it sends a positive message that you consider school a worthwhile cause.
Many schools now have to raise their own funds for activities and supplies that once were considered basic necessities, and parent volunteers are essential to organizing and chaperoning these fundraising events and other school activities.
Reasons to Get Involved
Parent volunteers offer a huge resource and support base for the school community while showing their kids the importance of participating in the larger community.
Not only will the school reap the benefits of your involvement — you will, too. By interacting with teachers, administrators, and other parents on a regular basis, you'll gain a firsthand understanding of your child's daily activities. You'll also tap into trends and fads of school life that can help you communicate with your kids as they grow and change (all without intruding on their privacy or personal space).
Even if you haven't been involved in the past, it's never too late to start. In fact, it may be more important than ever to get involved when kids reach secondary school. Some parents may experience "volunteer burnout" by the time their kids enter high school or decide that the schools don't need them as much then. Many parents who volunteered a lot of time during their kids' elementary years return to full-time careers by the time their kids are teens, so there's often a shortage in the secondary schools.