Guest Author - Lorel Shea
Gifted kids tend to be very passionate volunteers. They may have an awareness of suffering or need from a very early age, and a strong desire to make things better. I've heard stories of kids as young as three volunteering to donate their toys or save pennies to help someone in need. Gifted kids are often very sensitive to the plight of the less fortunate. They tend to be very passionate about causes and acutely affected by stories in the news. Parents and teachers can help these kids to channel their talents and abilities to address issues in their communities and the world. Doing something that makes the world a better place is very empowering for a child.
First, kids and their adult mentors need to decide what problem to tackle. Specific areas of interest can guide them to a choice, such as volunteering at the local animal shelter for the gifted animal lover, or restoring and donating old computers for the young computer scientist. Other choices might not be immediately obvious, but can be just as rewarding to everyone involved. A talented musician can play for the folks at the rest home, an amateur web site designer can create a site for a local non-profit company. The possibilities are endless!
Once the child has a concept of what population they'd like to serve, she needs to figure out a goal and a way to make things happen. Volunteer projects can be short and sweet, such as a one time vocal performance to raise money for cancer research, or long term and ongoing, such as a weekly gig at the community soup kitchen. As a friend of mine likes to say, It's ALL good! Anything that improves the quality of life for even one person is a worthwhile endeavor.
If a young person is really excited about volunteering, he might want to aim to win the Presidential service award. This award was designed by President Bush to recognize young people for outstanding community service. There are three levels of attainment, bronze, silver, and gold. Kids under age 14 have lower requirements than those over 14. Each has requirements that include submission of a log to show your service hours, and the awards must be ordered through a local certifying organization such as a church, youth group, school, business, or homeschool group.
Next time you hear a child say, I wish I could help... maybe you can be the person to tell her that she can! Enthusiasm and sincere desire to make a difference can lead to a lifetime of community service. Gifted children have SO much to give, if we help to get them started.