Why young people choose to become volunteers
Over the years I have sat in many meetings of peace groups when someone has asked, “How can we get young people involved?” Now we may know the answer.
For many older activists, the solution to reaching out to younger people largely involved making links between issues popular with young people, such as environmental conservation and climate change, with peace and anti-militarism.
Another approach was to focus more on using communications tools popular with young people, such as Facebook (back in the day) or Tik Tok.
A fascinating survey conducted by Abacus Data for the Rideau Hall Foundation found that whether a young person volunteers or not is largely determined by their sense of community.
According to an article published this week by the Rideau Hall Foundation, “one of the biggest predictors of whether or not a young person volunteers is their sense of community. Having a group of young people with a strong connection means having a group of young people who want to actively participate and make their community a better place.”
OK, so how do young people define community? Here the survey digs deeper, and reports that, “When asked to describe ‘community’ in their own words, young people in Canada tend to describe the feeling they get from a community, rather than a specific attribute like location, membership etc. Sentiments like ‘friendly’ ‘helpful’, and ‘togetherness’ are commonly used when asked to provide their definition.”
This suggests strongly that linking issues or technology is not the answer, but linking people is the way to engage youth in the peace movement.
“Whatever the definition, having a strong sense of community is important. Not only does it help youth feel like they belong, but it increases their chances of being an active participant in community, whatever that looks like,” it concludes.