It’s time to highlight one of our greatest resources, youth volunteers, this National Volunteer Week Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu 19-25 June.
“You can cite quite a few benefits, from skill building to CV improvements, but in all honesty, I don’t volunteer because of anything as tangible as that. I volunteer because it helps me to hope,” says Dante Dawes, a Youth Working Group member.
Formed in 2021 to determine how youth representation at a governance level within Volunteering New Zealand should take place, VNZ’s Youth Working Group (YWG) brings together young minds from all around the country who understand the importance of incorporating and supporting youth voices in organisations, especially at a decision-making level.
How the YWG is making a difference
Our team of eight recognises there are a lot of different ways to support the youth voice in this space. We have identified a number of projects that aim to make a difference.
For rangatahi keen to volunteer, it can be hard to know where to begin – we’re creating a monthly newsletter which aims to provide a convenient way to start people on their journey while recognising that volunteering can feel overwhelming to youth who feel they lack the skills.
Tying into this work, we want to focus on projects which upskill our youth. We hope to do this by organising, advertising and hosting workshops aimed at teaching youth how to grow their skill-set through volunteering, and get the most out of their efforts.
We want to build a community as volunteering is so much more valuable when there are others alongside you. Another project involves us reaching out to other youth councils to build a strong network of like-minded people and form a cohesive network of passionate volunteers.
Importance of youth engagement and involvement
“While youth are juggling everyday life and trying to find what they are passionate about, organisations and society should remember that when they have a young person on board, their voices should be heard and valued as they are a significant part of society,” Swetlana Khoo a YWG member says.
And why does the youth voice matter? Because our world is going through a massive transition phase. The knowledge and experience of long term volunteers will always be of the utmost importance. But as we shift to a new age of social media, digital content and casual volunteering, organisations need a wider array of skills, some of which can only be offered by youth, as the ones born and raised in that environment.
Our call to action
Aotearoa New Zealand’s youth bring new ideas and diverse perspectives. We’re incredibly lucky to have so many passionate student volunteers who spend their precious free time helping our communities thrive, now let’s make sure they’re given their time to shine.
This week we call on leaders who depend on young volunteers to step up and:
- Build spaces for youth representation at a decision-making level.
- Support youth volunteers balancing work, study and life commitments.
We applaud the many organisations already adding a seat to their board table for youth members. We encourage these organisations to widely promote their youth board positions.