This National Volunteer Week (20-26 May) YMCA NSW thanks and commends the 3.9 million volunteers whose efforts make our communities and our nation stronger, including the many thousands of young volunteers.
YMCA NSW CEO Susannah Le Bron said: “On behalf of the Y I’d like to sincerely thank every Australian who gives their time to volunteer and take the opportunity to recognise the thousands of young volunteers whose contribution makes a real and unique difference to their communities.
“A lot of people tend to think of volunteering as something done by older people, and while the rate of volunteering is highest in the 45-54 age group, young people are increasingly giving their time to help others. In fact, more than half a million people aged 15-24 spend time volunteering according to the 2016 Census – this is up 11 per cent compared to 2011 and 27 per cent since 2006.
“Here at the Y, we currently have about 60 young volunteers who give their time to support a variety of programs and services, from mentoring other young people and creating new opportunities for them through our YMCA Youth Hubs, to running NSW’s preeminent civic engagement program, YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, to being a part of our gymnastics mentor program where they ultimately go from participating gymnast to gymnastics coach.
“Far from apathetic and disinterested as they are often unfairly labelled, young people are clearly increasingly putting their hands up to engage in their communities and make them a better place.”
Ferran Thornycroft is a volunteer with the Y who, along with a team of fellow volunteers, coordinates YMCA NSW Youth Parliament each year. The 20-year-old has been volunteering with the program since 2017 and says volunteering is an immensely rewarding experience in many ways.
“I started volunteering with YMCA NSW Youth Parliament because I wanted to give back to the program which had been a fantastic experience for me. I feel like I have been able to give back, but volunteering has also been a great experience in itself,” Ms Thornycroft explained.
“Volunteering regardless of where, gives you the opportunity to learn and improve skills and be a positive influence in others’ lives. It gave me more confidence, starting from a fairly shy 16-year-old. Looking back, I have grown from a participant nervously reading a 2-minute speech to a confident volunteer giving 45-minute presentations, running activities and encouraging others. “Volunteering can also be a great way to meet people. As the participants of Youth Parliament come from all over the state, I have got to meet young people with varied backgrounds and life experiences. As well as rewarding, it can be a particularly fun and social experience.
“In addition to volunteering with the Y, I also do other volunteering including mentoring at uni. It can be tricky balancing other commitments in addition to volunteering, but in the end, I think it is really worthwhile. I encourage others to volunteer some time in area they feel strongly about, get involved in your community, learn new things, meet a range of people and make a difference.”
To learn more about volunteering with the Y, visit www.ymcansw.org.au and search for ‘volunteer’.
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