Involving young people in important community activities is growing in popularity. Through this involvement, the youths are able to contribute positively to the development of their communities. Engaging in social responsible activities also is seen as offering them an alternative to destructive activities, such as drug and alcohol abuse. The idea of social responsibility is aimed at developing the youths' social skills to appreciate the community, the environment and their participation in the social and political processes.
Benefits for Youth
Youth social responsibility involves developing a sense of commitment to the community. From this commitment, youths are then able to engage in activities such as organizing campaigns around certain societal issues, caring for the homeless, sick or elderly. Youths who participate in such activities have been found to demonstrate better social skills in how they interact with others in their community. They also have higher levels of civil awareness and problem-solving skills. Engaging in social responsible activities also increases career opportunities and higher academic achievement.
Service-learning is a concept that involves applying learned knowledge to solve community activities. Youths learn various skills and gain further knowledge in the activities that they are engaged in. Service-learning can be initiated by the youths themselves by designing community projects and implementing them. They also can be planned by partnering with youth development organizations to allow youth participation in the organization’s activities. In return, participants gain skills such as entrepreneurship, campaigning and advocacy, communication and fundraising.
Successfully Engaging Youth
Engaging youth in social responsibility has to be well-structured and deliberate. Organizations seeking to partner with youths should consider including as many stakeholders as possible. These include the staff, profit and nonprofit organizations and the community. This makes the initiative vibrant with ideas, formal endorsement and funding. It also is important to involve the youths in leadership positions and allow them to participate in decision-making. This is more than volunteering as it imparts skills and develops them as leaders.
Platforms of Participation
Platforms for participation give youths a chance to practice social responsibility locally and internationally. Locally, youths can engage or design activities in their schools, neighborhoods and churches. They also can partner with youth development and community-based organizations. Youths also can participate on international platforms by contributing to calls for papers and linking up with other youths through programs such as in other countries.