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Volunteering with Kids

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This months column is by Megan Fischer, Visitor and Volunteer Manager

GardenEntranceIt’s never too early to introduce your child to the idea of service and giving back to their community. Volunteering is a powerful way to help children focus on helping others and is something that families can explore together.

Family volunteering is a growing trend. Children and their parents, grandparents, or other adult caregivers choose to volunteer together for a number of reasons:
– Spend quality time together.
– Share and build important values.
– Respond to community needs.
– Feel important and empowered. It feels good to do something meaningful, to be a role model, and to know that you are making a difference.
– Try something new. Volunteering is a way to visit new places, meet new people, and develop new skills.
– It’s fun! Volunteering together can be a great adventure.

How can you start volunteering as a family? Think about interesting organizations or things you might like to do together. Perhaps you could sort donations or help serve meals at a food pantry. You could spend time with residents at a nursing home, work with animals at a shelter, or even be part of a beach or neighborhood cleanup. As you consider an organization, be sure to check whether they accept youth volunteers. The Volunteer Center of Rhode Island is an excellent resource for family-friendly volunteer opportunities.

Before choosing a volunteer opportunity, consider your schedule limitations. Do you want to volunteer once, a few times per month or year, or every week? After school or on the weekend? You should also select age-appropriate opportunities. With young children, pursue opportunities that require less skill and time. Maybe even find a project you can do at home, like preparing donations for a homeless shelter. You may want to set collective goals for your volunteer experience. What do you want to experience or learn together?

At the Providence Children’s Museum, family volunteers model positive play interactions for other parents and children, as well as help them feel welcome and involved. Volunteers encourage play and exploration by sharing their favorite exhibits and activities with Museum visitors. Family volunteers also get a behind-the-scenes look at how the Museum works – and have a lot of fun in the process!

April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week. It’s a great time to think about family volunteering, set goals together, and pursue an interesting opportunity. Celebrate this season of service and spend some meaningful quality time together!

For more information about volunteering at the Providence Children’s Museum, contact Megan Fischer at (401) 273-5437 x133 or volunteer@childrenmuseum.org.

Providence Children’s Museum – 100 South Street, Providence, RI. 401-273-5437 (KIDS)

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Written by Anisa Raoof