Whangarei Girls High School Student Volunteer Army
Our future lies with young people volunteering in the heart of the community
April started off with the Aotearoa-wide Student Volunteer Week. Thousands of young people give, learn, and connect through volunteering. Volunteering Northland wants to celebrate all young volunteers in our communities here in Te Tai Tokerau and shine a light on the enormous difference they make.
‘They are a breath of fresh air at Switzer and give our programme a burst of youthful energy. It's really inspiring to see our young people - who do get a bit of a hard time for always being on social media - determined to contribute back into their wider community’ says volunteer coordinator Frank Malley from Claude Switzer Residential Care in Kaitaia.
North Haven Hospice in Whangarei works with young volunteers every day. The students often go on to pursue a career in the health sector based on the skills they learned while volunteering. ‘One of our former student volunteers, Nico, is completing his medical training and will make for such a good doctor. At the moment, we have Caleb who is in training in IPU,’ says Jane Scripps from North Haven Hospice. ‘Senior students have a very big impact on both our guests and their whanau, but also on staff in general. Their wanting to be here sends a very big message to everyone. We always offer them the opportunity of time with doctors, nurses and social workers, to help them tease out what their futures could look like.’
Older students often volunteer on their own. Like Kaitlin Murray, who volunteers for homeless needs, spreads awareness about protecting the environment and volunteers around school. Or Alex Powell, who helps as a violin and cello teacher with Sistema, while his friend Noah Cook joins the working bees at the Quarry Gardens throughout the holidays and volunteers at school. Max Costello, another friend, always supports his classmates and picks up rubbish at the beach.
Nikau Badham makes Christmas stars every year, with the proceeds going to NEST, while Lilly Osborne bakes for the homeless. Chloe Annandale volunteers at Forget Me Not in Tikipunga during her holidays and Nic Bernecker helps the Cancer Society raising donations. Tikipunga-based organisation I Have A Dream has many students helping in their after-school programme, with impressive results for both older and younger students.
While it is sometimes difficult for younger students to volunteer on their own, they can volunteer in teams – like the Student Volunteer Army at Whangarei Girls High School. Over the past years, Volunteering Northland has been working with Ashleigh Zimmerman to secure volunteering opportunities at community gardens and events like the yearly Lions Club Golf Tournament. They can also volunteer with their whanau, like Theo Hirst, who volunteers his time with his grandfather John each month by checking bait traps on Parihaka.
If you are under 18 and want to volunteer, but you do not know where to start, get in touch with Verena: email@example.com or 09 945 4984.