Being actively involved in philanthropic pursuits since I was 12 years old, I am often asked what motivates me to do so. All in all, I truly feel that giving back is a part of my DNA, a part of who I am. By being an active member of society, I feel a sense of purpose, and can contribute towards the betterment of others, by providing help to individuals in need.
While people of any age can get involved in philanthropy, youth are sometimes overlooked in the conversation. Encouraging youth to engage in acts of service, whether locally or internationally, is an important step in establishing a life-long desire to help others. Moreover, having these experiences helps provide key insights that can broaden one’s perspective on the world.
Having raised $12,000 to drill a well, and $6,000 to build a library at Mpondwe Lhubiriha School in Bwera, Uganda, between the ages of 12 and 14, I am now looking to broaden my impact in other areas. Growing a passion for healthcare as of late, I began to ponder what isolation would be like for hospitalized kids, being away from friends and family. This consideration was paramount in my decision to start “Cheering Fireflies,” an initiative that sends handwritten cards to children’s hospitals, with whom I have made a personal connection. With cards being written by children, it makes the program all-the-more meaningful, as it helps bridge gaps between children inside and outside of the hospital. This idea of human connection is a powerful tool and is deeply rooted in the heart of philanthropy. With that in mind, here are three reasons why youth philanthropy is beneficial:
An opportunity to lead by example:
Often, taking the initiative to engage in philanthropic endeavors will help motivate others to want to do the same. Namely, partaking in a fundraising event may prompt a fellow classmate to become more involved in their community. Then, a group of friends may decide to tag along, followed by an entire class of students. This ripple affect can be unlimited.
A broader outlook and exploration of interests:
Philanthropic work naturally provides insight into various world issues. While volunteering, you can interact with people that are not as fortunate, but also senior citizens that have had a plethora of life experiences to impart. These interactions, over time, can help cultivate your interests. For example, participating in a beach clean-up can precipitate a passion for the environment. Volunteering at a summer camp could initiate an interest in working with youth. Taking part in acts of service can ultimately be useful to better understand where change is needed, and how to help drive that change, to make the world a kinder, more compassionate place.
By far the most noteworthy aspect of giving back is assisting others in a time of need. Taking the initiative, and actively finding ways to engage in acts of service is one of the most powerful ways to positively influence lives. Altogether, the intent behind a culture of giving is to “lift” up those less fortunate, which, in turn, promotes a more inclusive society.
I look forward to seeing the ways that philanthropy develops throughout the years. No matter what stage of life I am in, I always hope to involve myself in community service, and advocate for others to act likewise. Oh yeah, and the answer to the first question remains rather simple: why not?
Crawford Sly is a grade 10 student at St. Michael’s University School, in Victoria, BC