Not-For-Profit Bargains Blog
Do you ever feel like screaming “stop playing with your phone”? If your answer is yes, we’re here to help. Engaging youth in group volunteering activities can be incredibly challenging, especially when it seems that life doesn’t exist beyond their phones. Fortunately, we have answers! We’ve hosted and volunteered as a group for many of projects focusing on how to engage your community, and we are here to share this knowledge with you. Our guide to engaging youth groups without relying on technology is simple, to the point, and will help any youth step away from their phone for longer than 5 minutes.
How to Engage Youth Without Technology
We deal with a lot of faith-based organizations, and have heard on numerous occasions that volunteers are finding it harder and harder to keep the youth groups focused and not on their phones. A big factor to remember is that if you want them to put their phones down, you have to keep their hands busy (and not just with a fidget spinner!). This generation needs to be given hands-on tasks, or else their minds will wander and before you know it they’re right back on social media.
Building kits is a great group volunteering activity to engage a group and give back to their community. Not only does it keep their hands busy, it also brings the group together and jumpstarts communication.
To start, I would suggest selecting a cause. Why not think about organizations that are nearby and need help: the homeless, schools, shelters, hospitals… the list goes on. Once you have decided on whom to help, you will better understand what products you need to place in your kits. You might be thinking that this will be expensive, but keep in mind that kits can be built on almost any budget!
Allowing a youth group to pack kits for a cause gives them hands on experience that they can enjoy. Before the building begins, why not ask the group what they think the best way to build the kits is? Should they be built in an assembly line style? Or should kit pieces be placed around the room and each person is responsible for building 1 kit each. You can have fun with this and turn it into a game of building 100 kits within 30 minutes. If the kits can be built within this time, why not celebrate by throwing a pizza party? Let the group know that there is opportunity to win something if they work as a team! Again, this highlights the importance of communication, encourages cooperation and working together, and serves as an effective motivator and stimulation for the brain.
Before the packing commences, why not invite someone from the recipient organization and ask them to give a few words, to educate the students on what they are doing, the importance of these kits, and whom they are helping.
Whatever you do, don’t forget that it is 2017! Play some music, encourage everyone to take photos and share them on social media. This should be done in moderation however, as we are trying to keep them OFF of their phones; remind them that taking too many pictures will have an impact on the number of kits being built. Encourage them to discuss this and agree on a solution before the timer starts. An idea would be getting the group to select 3 people to be in charge of taking photos and posting them. You can print social media handles and place them around the room, so the selected few know what hashtags to use. This is a great way to spread the word about the organization you’re helping, and will also encourage your community and friends to help give back.
Why This is Important
It’s incredibly important to make sure that this group volunteer event is wrapped up properly. If the youth group doesn’t deliver the kits, you should ensure that they get to see a photo or video of the kits being given out and placed into the hands of those who need it. This lets them actively see the change they’ve made in the world, maybe even pointing out which kits are being handed out by the design styles some of the kids made to the exterior. Without this sense of closure, it will be incredibly hard for the group to truly understand the impact they’ve created with their own hands. It’s very important to motivate and incentivize these types of activities, and once the youths can see what they’ve managed to contribute, it will inspire them even further to keep giving back.