By Susan Parmelee
I have had the opportunity to participate in several community activities recently that have included student volunteers and I have been very impressed with the amazing young people in our community. In addition to their challenging academic schedules and extra-curricular activities, they are also taking time to give back to the residents of San Clemente.
In early March, I attended the San Clemente Domestic Violence Task Force’s Teen Violence Summit. A group of young women from San Clemente High School joined community professionals in a discussion about how violence affects youth. This was an eye-opening, well-articulated discussion in which the adults got a glimpse of the struggles youth in a relatively safe community face. One of the main conclusions by the youth was that violence issues should be covered more extensively in school curriculum and there is a need for increased efforts in mental health outreach for high school students.
The following weekend I joined the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency (NCADD) for “attempted buys” of tobacco products in San Clemente. Teens worked in pairs shadowed by adults to try and buy cigarettes at retail locations. All of the locations in San Clemente were compliant and asked for ID to verify ages. The activity affirms that San Clemente is a community that values the health and safety of their youth.
Did you know that many of our high school youth tutor and coach sports at the Boys & Girls Club? This is an invaluable service to the younger children in our community. They look up to and admire the high school kids and are challenged to impress their older peers. All while being safely supervised by the excellent staff and adult volunteers at the Club.
There is also a lot of good stuff happening on the high school campus, where the Best Buddies Club work’s one-on-one with students who have developmental delays. The Best Buddies Club plans special parties and fieldtrips for these students, and the shared experiences are beneficial to the entire group. The Associated Student Body also dedicates more than just class time, seeking ways to engage all of the students in activities that encourage school connectedness and a sense of belonging.
Youth representatives also participate in the Wellness & Prevention Coalition, which is exploring ways to help youth grow up healthy, strong and substance free. The Wellness & Prevention Coalition meets to strategize on community prevention initiatives for the city of San Clemente and is a federally funded drug-free coalition.
Youth engage in community service for a variety of reasons—including requirements for certain clubs, classes and special diplomas—however, what is evident is how good it makes them feel. Teens report they are overwhelmed and very stressed; however, service to others has been found to reduce their stress levels. If your teen does not currently engage in some type of volunteer activity, encourage them to find somewhere that they are comfortable making a difference.
Susan Parmelee is a mental health social worker and one of the founders of the Wellness & Prevention Center, San Clemente. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Discussion about this post