Volunteers Initiating Vitality Across (VIVA) Lanark County - Program Ended
Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, we are able to work with 500 local youth and 10 local non-profits to improve the quality of youth volunteer experiences. Research proves that youth who feel like their volunteering is meaningful- for them and for their community- begin a life-long tradition of civic engagement.
More important benefits of meaningful youth volunteering include:
feelings of belonging and connection to the community
fewer mental health struggles and substance use/misuse
more gainfully employed
smoother transition into adulthood
youth perspectives and needs better reflected in the community and in services as youth contribute valuable input through their volunteering
Youth between the ages of 12-17 will be able to acquire important skills and training that will not only make them highly desirable to organizations looking for volunteers, they will also be more likely to gain paid employment. ALL HOURS COMPLETED IN OUR PROJECT COUNT FOR THE MANDATORY 40 HOURS NEEDED TO GRADUATE. Youth who need to complete mandatory community service hours can also apply their hours with VIVA.
We will conduct Appreciative Inquiry Interviews with youth to identify what their strengths, dreams, interests and ambitions are so they can have the best possible match and reap the many benefits of a truly meaningful volunteer experience. Some of the training youth can take for free through the VIVA Project include:
Safe Food Handling
Confidentiality and Privacy
Meaningful Youth Experiences
To be effective in recruiting and keeping youth volunteers, agencies need to understand Best Practices for working with youth and how to provide MEANINGFUL volunteer experiences. Meaningful youth volunteer experiences encourage and teach youth to embrace and contribute to their community and likewise serve as an advocate for the community to engage and support all youth. Meaningful volunteer experiences can empower youth to assume leadership roles, providing them opportunities to consider themselves as resources. Our VIVA Coordinator created a comprehensive and easy-to-use training manual to teach agencies how to train their staff to work with youth and build their capacity to recruit and retain youth volunteers. Training is a 3 to 5 hour time investment. Upon completion agencies will be confident in their ability to provide meaningful volunteer experiences to youth and retain those volunteers. This manual can be downloaded and used as a training tool and a reference guide for staff and volunteers. It includes step-by step instructions, helpful tips, worksheets, templates and more.
In the first year of this project, 10 non-profit agencies across Lanark County will work with our Project Coordinator, Tracy Kwissa, to build their capacity to improve their youth volunteer engagement. We will focus on key areas that result in meaningful youth engagement:
shaping youth volunteer opportunities to meet youth definitions of what is meaningful
adjusting recruitment strategies specifically to effectively reach youth
incorporating Appreciative Inquiry tools into screening processes to improve the appropriate matching of youth volunteers to open opportunities
providing youth specific training to the agency and to the role
customizing supervision and mentoring to youth volunteer needs
building evaluation tools and processes that nurture growth and development