“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Mahatma Gandhi
I’m the proud mama of two adult children. Both were volunteers at a local nursing home during their teen years. My daughter is working on her doctorate degree in physical therapy, and my son serves in the Peace Corps. I firmly believe that their volunteer experiences made an impact on their passion for helping others and their desire to make a positive difference in our world.
Here are some great reasons why your teenager should consider volunteering at a nursing home:
- This is a great opportunity to explore health-related careers. I started out volunteering in a nursing home at age 14, and this helped confirm my desire to become an RN.
- In this day and age of social media, teens don’t always get a lot of opportunities to refine their interpersonal skills. At the nursing home, the smartphones are put away. Teens learn to communicate with the residents face to face.
- Experience as a nursing home volunteer looks good on a resume. I know this because it stood out when I interviewed nurses and nursing assistants during my years of working as a nurse manager. It’s also a plus for scholarship applications.
- Teens and residents learn from one another. I’ve seen teen volunteers help residents understand how to use computers, and I’ve seen residents teach teens how to knit.
- It helps teens put their problems into perspective. Even seemingly small problems can feel overwhelming to a teenager. Seeing and hearing stories of how nursing home residents deal with challenges in a positive way can give teens a new perspective on life.
- Aging and disability will seem less scary. I remember visiting a nursing home for the first time as a child. The sights, sounds, and smells were unnerving. But once I got to know the residents as unique and precious individuals I wasn’t frightened anymore.
- It boosts self-esteem. Your teen can leave the nursing home each day knowing that someone’s life was just a little bit better because they were there.
What did I miss? Why would you encourage teens to volunteer at a nursing home?