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If you are looking for a way to spend more time with your family, teach your kids compassion and responsibility, all while helping an amazing cause, have we got the solution for you! Volunteering is an amazing way to not only do good for others, but to grow as an individual. Studies find that the earlier a child can begin volunteering, the better. And volunteering with animals can make the impact even stronger.

Why Kids and Families Should Volunteer

There is no doubt about it, children look up to adults, especially their parents and guardians. Kids are notorious for striving to act like mom and dad, from watching parents change the oil in the car to learning how to cook from them. By watching and joining a parent in a volunteer role, kids are learning how important it is to work with the goal of helping others. Volunteering as a family is strongly suggested for bonding and increasing a sense of teamwork in the family unit.

Individually, volunteering also has a huge number of benefits. According to Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning at Tufts University, kids who volunteer are more successful in school and more likely to graduate from high school and college. Working in a volunteer position will not only give a child the chance to learn about new causes, but will give them an outlook they may not have gotten from being solely around their family. Having a responsibilities while working as a volunteer can give the kid a sense of purpose and increase self-esteem. Learning new skills, compassion and having a sense of pride in a cause all come along with volunteering as well. Not to mention, it’s a great way to get out of the house and experience something new!

Why Kids Should be Around Animals

Being around animals is beneficial in the emotional and psychological development of children. Recent studies have shown that being around animals has as many benefits as volunteering does for kids. Although it is a relatively new area of scientific research, the effect of animals on developmental psychology is amazing. Melson and Peet found that being attached to a pet is related to positive emotional functioning and Bergesen found that positive self-esteem of children can be enhanced by owning a pet. You don’t have to live with a pet to reap the benefits of animals, though. Being around animals on a regular basis can teach responsibility, compassion, and can provide a vast array of other qualities that will help kids become amazing adults in the future.

With the nations increase in childhood obesity, being around animals can also inspire being more active and health conscious. Animals have also been seen aiding in children who struggle in social settings and provide a way for these kids to connect with others and feel a sense of calm in an otherwise stressful situation.

How to do Both:

Animal shelters across the are desperate for help taking care of the thousands of homeless animals they come through. You can call your local animal shelters and ask about kid friendly volunteer activities they may offer. If they don’t already have a program set up, don’t fret! There are tons of ways to become an active animal volunteer with children of all ages.

Raise Money

If your local animal shelters don’t have a way for your kids to work directly with animals, they will still be able to provide you with amazing information on pet homelessness and the needs of the animals. You can take this information, share it with your kids and come up with a clever way to raise money or get donations for the shelter you want to help.

Make Toys or Enrichment

With so many animals in shelters, it is hard for staff and volunteers to properly exercise each individual animal. Toys and other forms of enrichment are an awesome way to keep animal entertained until they are adopted. Cat toys can be made out of a variety of different items, and it’s easy to make dog toys out of rope and felt. Ask the shelter what they need as far as enrichment and they’ll have plenty of suggestions.

Foster 

If you don’t have the ability to give an animal a forever home but you still want to volunteer and make a difference in an animals life, foster one! Animal shelters across the nation are desperate to find foster homes for their animals, and what a great learning experience for your kids!

Spread Awareness

With all the information you and your family is getting about your local animal shelters and the plight of homeless animals, it’ll be fun to come up with a way to share it. Make a fun youtube video like these kids or set up an event to share your knowledge. The more people know, the better off our shelters will be.

Image Source: CiaDePhoto/Flickr

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