The Value of Small Life Experiences for Youth


As we head into summer and a more relaxed pace I’m reminded  of what a great opportunity it is to set up openings  for young people to gain new experiences and skills no matter what their age, through not only work experience but single projects.

It’s funny as parents we’re often so focused on providing fun summer outings that keep them busy, we may miss our chance to connect this to gaining skills, increasing confidence and building personal stories that young people will use later in their quest to move forward and increase resilience.  If this sounds like it might be a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be.

Think of something as small as setting them out to do a good deed for one neighbour or volunteering in the community, to painting that old outdoor chair that is in need of attention.  It’s looking for ways that they can gain new skills and the knowledge that they are capable of doing many things which others value.  This increases their sense of self worth and often provides a small start in believing they can take on bigger responsibilities.  We need them to stretch out and try smaller experiences, so that if it does or does not go well it’s easy to use the experience as a great source of learning, as opposed to just a source of disappointment.

In a recent discussion with a group of educators we talked about the importance of letting young people take more risks and fail in small ways, and then most important to look at the learning from it and discuss what they do next.  If you are dealing with younger children it might be small home or one time community projects and if they’re older get them to look for either short term summer jobs or even one time community projects.  This will not only build their resumes but offer the opportunity to work under a leader, collaborate with others and possibly find new areas that they care about and connect with.  I truly believe that gaining experience through action is the best way to help young people engage and open doors to doing more great work as they move forward.

For parents why not take on the challenge to create one opportunity this summer for your children to give back and build new skills.

If you happen to live in the Greater Vancouver area and are looking for a free opportunity to have your young people volunteer, take a digital break and connect with other youth, feel free to join us on the first or second Wednesday of the month where we’ll be doing various community volunteer projects. Find out more at  in the speaking and events section.

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