Tips & Advice
- 27 January 2014
- by Celia Buckman
Service has its obvious benefits. It’s valuable for the community, a bonding experience, and a ton of fun. But studies have shown that service is also meaningful psychologically. That is, the act of service actually improves your brain and its capabilities.
Service motivates you.
Arguably, the biggest problem confronting middle and high school students is motivation. According to this study, service learning in schools is one of the best ways to reduce bullying. Why? Because it shows kids they can make a difference, and what they do matters. Their empathy increases, and they become more sensitive to how others feel.
Students involved in service learning programs reported feeling a sense of higher purpose and responsibility to serve their communities. This drive for civic responsibility is just what our society needs to solve issues, and what better way to engage young people in making change.
Improved Mental Health
In a study conducted by Peggy Thoits and Lyndi Hewitt in 2001, participating in service decreases stress and chances of depression. In fact, 89% of teens that volunteer say they do so because it makes them feel good. Helping others makes you feel better about yourself, and happier as a result.
There are many studies that prove the positive outcomes of service in academic areas. Standardized test scores are significantly higher in schools with service in their curricula, and students who volunteer regularly usually have higher GPAs. Most attribute this to unique problem-solving skills and exposure to diversity and different ways of thinking of ones experiences while volunteering. One of my favorite things to do is tutoring youth at a refugee relief center. The variety of cultural backgrounds and being able to teach the kids has taught me so much about multiculturalism and the way our minds function. When we volunteer, our minds have to adopt a heightened awareness that can contribute to academic success.
Service can even help veterans recover from PTSD while helping our country. The powerful affects of service on these psychological values just add more meaning to the activity.