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Teenagers pick up rubbish in a forest

Volunteer ideas for high school students

Study tips
Published 12 Dec, 2022  ·  4-minute read

Teen volunteer programs aren’t just a great way to keep your child occupied during the school holidays. They're also incredibly character building, and they don’t look bad on a resumé either.

Whether your teenager wants to commit to something a bit more extensive, like teen volunteer abroad programs, or they’re simply interested in one-off volunteer activities for youth, they’ll be sure to gain some valuable skills and insights from the experience.

Let’s take a look at the various volunteer opportunities for teens available in Australia and abroad.

Places for teens to volunteer

The best place to start when looking for volunteer work for teens is in your local community. Here are a few places you could visit or contact in your area to enquire about youth volunteering opportunities:

Many of these institutions and organisations will have youth-specific volunteer programs where your child will have the chance to volunteer alongside other teens. Established not-for-profits like Red Cross and Vinnies are a good option for those looking for a little more structure to their volunteering, with dedicated events and programs to sign up for. At the completion of these types of youth volunteering opportunities, teens will often receive a certificate acknowledging their contribution, which they can include in their portfolio and resumé for the future.

Is your teen writing their first resumé? Share these handy tips with them.

Teens seeking flexibility around their volunteering may prefer to reach out to local independent nursing homes and animal shelters instead. Here, they may have more freedom to chat to managers to see if they can establish a volunteering schedule that fits around their other commitments. Alternatively, they could consider volunteering at one-off charity events like Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day, Red Nose Day, Clean up Australia Day or Christmas carol celebrations run by a local group or charity.

Good volunteer ideas for high school students

If your teen is looking to continue their volunteer work outside of the school holidays, they’ll need to find opportunities that accommodate their school hours. Sporadic or structured volunteer activities for youth that can be scheduled around school include:

  • coaching a sports team
  • helping younger students with homework or tutoring
  • running errands for elderly neighbours
  • donating blood (18+ only).
A teenage boy hands groceries to an elderly woman at her front door.

Youth volunteer opportunities for high school leavers

The period between finishing Year 12 and starting university should certainly involve relaxation and celebration – completing 13 years of schooling deserves a little R&R, after all. However, some teens may also wish to set aside time to build upon their interpersonal skills and add new qualifications and experiences to their resumé.

Whether your teen is taking a gap year, or just a few months of holidays between high school and uni, here are a few teen volunteer programs they can pursue.

United Nations youth volunteer program

Volunteering for an organisation held in such high esteem the world over can bolster your teen’s opportunities down the line and enhance their credentials. UN Youth Australia offers several volunteer programs that teach leadership skills and help to broaden young minds. If you have an ambitious teen who likes to look at the big picture, a position in a United Nations youth volunteer program may be for them.

Teen volunteer abroad programs

Many high school leavers are choosing to spend their gap year participating in humanitarian or conservation work in developing countries. However, there are also shorter teen volunteer abroad programs available for those looking to fit one of these opportunities between high school and uni.

Note that many overseas volunteer programs for teens do cost money and involve an application process. Some of these programs can be quite competitive, so be sure to read through the application details carefully and encourage your teen to apply early if interested.

Your teen may wish to explore overseas volunteer programs targeted at youth with:

Some organisations even offer packages for entire families to volunteer together if you’d like to accompany your teen and make it an enriching family experience.

Always check a volunteer program provider’s safety and security measures before your teen signs up to participate and be mindful of additional processes for teens under 18. Meeting the adults who will be chaperoning your teen is also a good idea to establish a relationship of trust and confirm who to contact in case of emergencies.

Benefits of youth volunteering

So, why encourage your teen to volunteer? It isn’t just about getting a certificate of participation to highlight in future job applications (though this is important too). Volunteering can teach your teen:

  • leadership skills
  • communication skills
  • self-confidence and self-worth
  • proactiveness
  • reliability
  • the value of community
  • how to show and receive respect
  • to develop a broader global perspective.

There are plenty of opportunities out there for your teen to get involved in volunteer work. Overall, it's a great way to meet new people, build skills and have fun.

UQ students have access to a variety of local and international volunteering opportunities aimed at building skills, nurturing connections to community and providing unforgettable experiences. Whether students are in their first or fourth year of university at UQ, they can participate in fulfilling and rewarding volunteer activities and programs.

Discover volunteering at UQ

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