COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of many school sports, but coaches and parents can use this opportunity to help young athletes focus on giving back to their communities. Right now, with practices and competitions mostly on hold, team unity can be found through volunteer opportunities instead of games and scrimmages. Kids can learn the importance of helping others and giving back while bonding as a team so that next year, they can come back stronger than ever. Even better, research has found that volunteering can also provide a boost to mental health in these tough times.
Jamie Kay Discher, Director of Girl Experience for the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey has a few ideas on how your child or your team can give back this season in a safe, healthy way.
In the Girl Scouts, volunteer opportunities aren’t just listed as things that need to be ticked off a checklist: The girls are encouraged to decide on projects that they’re passionate about, and then the leaders get involved to help with the specifics. But Discher believes that the research and decision-making is an important part of the giving back process. “Generally, the first step for anyone who’s looking to perform service is to figure out what you’re interested in,” says Discher. Have your team brainstorm ways that they’d like to give back. Make a list of options. Then, Discher says the second step is to make sure that you’re actually filling a need in the community. For example, check with an animal shelter to see if they really need food or bedding donations before starting a collection process!