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Mandatory Volunteerism
There is a mixed reaction to mandatory volunteerism by adults and students. Some people feel that making someone volunteer defies the spirit of volunteering. Other people position their argument for mandatory (voluntold) volunteering by stating that some youth have never been introduced to the rewards of volunteering and this educational method does just that. The following article is about mandatory volunteerism from a studentís perspective.

Mandatory Volunteering: A Studentís Perspective
By Vicki Xu

When faced with the CAS (creative/action/service) program at the beginning of Grade 11, many students start with the same thoughts: fifty hours? Impossible! They begin to scramble around, scooping up whatever volunteer positions they can find, complaining along the way. Are these mandatory service hours necessary? Are they forcing high school students to do too much extracurricular work?

The spirit of volunteering is to give up your time freely to help others. It seems completely contradictory to force students into something that is meant to be given out of the goodness of their hearts.

However, mandatory volunteering is actually a wonderful part of high school that all students benefit from, no matter how much they may complain. It teaches them to take the initiative to find a volunteer position and then to manage their schedules to fit in time each week. It develops dedication to a task, as well as responsibility. It coaches a friendly attitude and better interactions with others.

Youth in TransitionAlthough many students may not realize it, volunteering is the start of the development of life skills that will be needed not only in the workplace but in life. It gets many students out of their houses, off computers, away from televisions, and into the real world where not only are they helping others and they are learning new things.

Mandatory volunteering also helps fill in the spaces where volunteering is needed. Without mandatory programs, places such as the Odyssium, hospitals, local festivals, and charity events would all be much emptier. Our society needs these volunteers, and if awarding school credit ensures that a demand is met, it is a worthy sacrifice.

I first began to volunteer at the beginning of my Grade 10 year. I thought volunteering earlier than required was a way to fill up the CAS hours for the International Baccalaureate program. At the University of Alberta Hospital library, I spent four hours a week helping patients, delivering magazines, and organizing books. After less than four months I was done the fifty required hours that were supposed to be completed in two years, yet I continued to volunteer. Even after I decided not to attain my IB diploma, rendering my CAS hours useless, I still continued to volunteer.

I discovered a great joy from helping patients; providing them with someone to talk to, and lighting a smile on their faces. Breaking the monotony of their lives was infinitely more important than the two or three hours taken out of my homework time. Without the mandatory CAS program, I would not have realized the rewards of volunteering.

By giving students that little extra push to volunteer, mandatory volunteering creates a world of good. It provides students with needed life skills, fills the void in volunteering programs, and allows students to discover the joys of volunteering that most would not realize.

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Volunteerism in Alberta: 100 years of Celebrating Community

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