- Quality of Life & Wellness
Setting Goals to Help Others - For Teens
Making the World a Better Place
If you have always wanted to make the world a better place to live in but you don’t know how to get started, don’t worry; you are not alone. Many teens wish they could help feed the hungry children they see in commercials but without money they don’t think that they can help. Some teens witness others being bullied at school or they hear about the turmoil other teens go through because of cyber bullies. They feel sorry for the people who are being tormented but they fear becoming a victim if they try to stop it. They wish that there was something they could do. Some teens learn about global warming and the effect landfills have on our ecosystem but the problem seems too big for them to be able to offer any relief from it. Most teens never hear about the people in their own communities who need a helping hand. The local food pantry might need people to haul groceries out to cars or an elderly person might need someone to take out their trash or shovel their snow. A single parent may need a babysitter for an hour. Many teens shy away from getting involved because they don’t know how to bring up their desire to help to others. Have no fear; you can start out making small changes until you feel more comfortable. Setting small goals will lead to larger goals and soon you will realize the huge impact your actions can have on changing the world for the better.
Examples of Small Goals You Can Set for Yourself
- Start and maintain a recycling system for your trash.
- Shut off lights and water when they’re not in use.
- Gather your household’s old clothing and toys or gadgets to donate.
- Babysit a couple hours per week for the child or children of a low-income mother.
- Call your area churches or food pantries to find out how you can help
- Offer to help your elderly neighbors with yard upkeep, walking pets, or going to the corner store.
- Write a letter to our troops once a week or month.
- Write a congressman about any laws or concerns you have about the country.
- Make crafts or baked goods for a fund raiser.
- If you're especially good in one subject in school, offer to help a classmate who has a difficult time understanding it.
Taking Courses to Complement Goals
Setting goals and working toward achieving them can make the difference between drifting through life never realizing your dreams or envisioning your dreams and taking steps to see them come true. Categorize your short term and long term goals on paper.
Think about what courses or clubs you could participate in at school that may help you understand more about current affairs such as poverty, the ecosystem, or injustice. Go through the school catalog or speak to the instructors or the school counselor to learn more about them. If you have to choose between one and another, choose the one that you feel more passionate about learning and changing. Consider how your choice might contribute to your short and long term goals. For example, if the thing you feel most passionate about is helping others and your two top class interests are Green Design and Technology or Creative Writing; write down how each has the potential of contributing to your goal of helping others, as well as, the other goals you have set for yourself. The Green Design and Technology course will obviously help you understand the ecosystem better thereby arming you with ideas on how you can contribute to making changes to better its current state. The Creative Writing course could train you to write well thereby preparing you to write stories that bring awareness of life's struggles or aid in your letter writing skills if you should ever want to write others for help or changes.
DoSomething.org - An organization helping teens to get involved
One great organization that offers ways for teens to get involved with helping others all around the world is DoSomething.org. Over one million teens have become members and more than two million participated in campaigns last year. If you haven’t heard about this organization in school, you can find out more about it, become a member, and learn other ways you can help by going to their site at: http://www.dosomething.org/. The site has an Action Finder with drop down menus to make knowing how you want to get involved easy. It also helps you find ways you can help on your own, with your friends, with your classmates, with your family, or with members of a club or sports team. When setting goals for sponsored campaigns it is important to pay attention to the time frame that they are running and set up your events to get your donations before they are due to be turned in. For example, one campaign supported by DoSomething.org is the Teen for Jeans campaign which in 2013 runs from January 17th – February 13th. It would be a good idea to talk to school officials right away if you still have time to get involved in 2013. If you don’t have time to organize a donation drive, you could look into upcoming campaigns. Keep in mind that while some campaigns require group efforts, many have things that one person can do at home to contribute to its cause.
A list of a few of the campaigns DoSomething.org supports:
- Teens for Jeans - Teens organize a jean donation drive at school, church, or a community center. Jeans that are new or used but in good condition are collected and then dropped off at any Aeropostale store and sent to many of over a million homeless teens.
- Fight Puppy Mills – A goal someone could do at home to protect animals is to write local and state legislators asking for better laws or they could spread the word about the cruelty these animals are bred in.
- Start a Mentoring Program at School to help end bullying – The site gives ideas to get the program started in school and an outline of how to succeed in making newcomers to the school feel welcome.
The organization has many other causes it supports and instructions on how to get started and lists of different ways to fund raise. Stop thinking about getting involved and just do it.
· Go to the site and look through causes that tug at your heart
· Call friends or set up a group meeting to make a plan
· Write down all the reasons you all believe it is important for you to get involved
· If you need permission to act for this cause, bring your list of reasons and your group, if appropriate, and ask.
· Advertise your cause on social networks, in school hallways, and neighborhood stores.
· Listen to suggestions from others and use whatever seems like a good idea.
Help your Parents and Get them Involved in Helping Others
Teens often overlook how much more quality time they could spend with their parents or guardians if they only took the time to do a few extra things a week to help them out. Whether you have chores or not, taking over an extra chore or two will almost certainly make your parents feel real good about the thoughtful person they are raising. In addition, you may suggest to them that the whole family get involved in helping people less fortunate. Some things you could do as a family are:
- Plant a vegetable garden, care for it, and pass veggies out to neighbors or donate to food pantry.
- Choose an elderly neighbor to help with housework, home repairs, and errands.
- Organize a fundraiser to help somebody in your area with medical expenses.
- Go through all the things that you don't use anymore (e.g. household items, toys, clothes) and donate them to a single mom in your area.
- Rescue a pet from a shelter and share in the caregiving for it.
The Benefits of Helping Others
Often when we start out helping others, we don’t want anything for ourselves. However, usually you receive gifts that change who you are and make you a better person. It feels real good to be a part of something that makes life better for someone in need or for an abused or neglected animal. Volunteering often helps people discover who they are and who they want to be. In addition, volunteering can also lead to scholarships, money for your school, or awesome prizes. Sometimes these bonuses can make the difference between having funds for your own college education or giving school funds to add something needed in the school. Know that you can make a difference. All you have to do is get started.