Such programs include Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver’s Between Generations Program. In this program, each volunteer Mentor is matched with an elementary school aged boy or girl, who could benefit from having a mentor. Volunteers spend one to two hours per week at the child’s elementary school, during the school day.
Children who have a mentor show increased self-esteem, learn respect, feel more connected to school and are less likely to be bullied or bully.
The benefits to the children in these programs are clear – but what are the benefits for the volunteer? We’ve compiled three of the best reasons every mature adult or retiree should volunteer:
#1: Improves Physical Functioning
Volunteering with children can be tricky in that often times we find ourselves unable to ‘keep up’. Programs like Between Generations match their volunteers with children of various physical activity levels – leaving the choice up to the volunteer. Regardless of the match, children are still children! Even taking a walk around the block with a child can support long term health improvements and mobility.
#2: Lowers the Risk of Depression and Improves Emotional Health
A study, led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences, found that feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer appears to amplify the relationship between volunteering and psychosocial wellbeing.
Whether you’re currently in the work force or retired, many of us have grown children and are living alone or with a spouse. Volunteering can open up a network of like-minded new friends, which enhances social well-being. Interaction with a child and other volunteer mentors creates a sense of community and social support, which can decrease the risk of loneliness and depression in older volunteers.
#3: Makes a Positive Impact on the Community
By just spending a couple hours each week with a child in need, volunteer mentors are able to help their mentees reach their full potential. By changing the course of young lives, we as adults can in turn change the course of a community’s future. It could lead to a reduction in poverty and unemployment, and to safer schools and neighbourhoods. There is no more important investment than in helping our community’s children.
Between Generations is proudly supported by Manulife Financial. For more information, visit www.bigbrothersvancouver.com/between-generations or call 604.876.2447 ext
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