Service to Others...
"We all start off lost in a confusing world. We all are shaped by forces in the world: cultural and social conditioning. We have amnesia: we forget who we are and where we come from; we misidentify with the body and the mind." ( Marshall Vian Summers, 2009). As Summers points out, culture defines what meaning we might attach to our existence. Success is frquently judged in terms of material acquisitions and defines purpose as achieving fame and fortune. Most young people seek meaning and purpose to their lives in order to justify an existence that otherwise can appear superficial and of little real value, but modern existence appears to offer little opportunity to achieve this goal.
This truth is particlarly relevant at a time when our culture and social conditioning place such emphasis on material wealth and social status at an ever quickening pace, resulting in a race that will lead to a state of ultimate self gratification.
But is such gratification leading to increased levels of happiness and a sense of purpose, and particularly those of young people?
The sad fact is that mental health problems now affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.
And yet it is known that emotional and mental wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.
Meanwhile, "scientific research provides compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Through fMRI technology, we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and that it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful." (Jenny Santi,
Hunter and Lynn, (1980) have also suggested that prosocial acts are beneficial and that related research suggests that individuals engaged in altruistic behaviours also benefit. Several studies report physical and psychological benefits associated with altruistic behavior and that volunteering is positively correlated with self-reported happiness, health, and well-being.
Based on research which has investigated what actions are most likely to encourage
increased levels of happiness, self esteem, self worth and provide some meaning to the lives of young people, Values Education for Life introduced a new project in 2013 which provided opportunities for young people to volunter and work with vulnerable groups living in their community: this project has developed over the intervening years and now successfully offers our young volunteer workers the opportunity to give up some of their time to help others.
Values Education for Life meets on a regular basis with young people between the ages of 11 to 18 who live on a large housing estate which experences a great deal of social disadvantage.
The young people involved give up part of their weekends and holiday periods in order to become voluntary workers who support their community and engage in activities designed to improve the quality of their lives and provide hope for the future.
These young people regularly join together as a community group in order to plan and carry out projects that they believe will be beneficial to their neighbourhood and improve the quality of life for themeselves and their neighbours.
The group is encouraged to work together as a team which is structured on democratic principles and encourages all participants to engage in the planning and delivery of the projects that they design and manage.
These projects have included:
Both residents and the young people involved highly value the powerful friendships that have been created and many of the residents now look forward to the regular visits made by their younger counterparts and the companionship that these visits provide.
The group is now involved in recording the life experiences of the residents on video , as an archive for posterity and developing a specialist room at the home as a library, hobby, and arts and crafts room in order to provide mental stimulus for the residents throughout the week
This really is a win-win situation where both young people and older residents gain enormously from the social interaction that this project provides. .
Charity Registration Number 1000241
Our Sensory Garden - a garden of respect
One of the projects that "Service To Others" has been involved in is the raisng of money to fund a sensory garden for the residents of the Residential Home that they support.
These photographs illustrate the initial interest in the project and the coming together of two very different age groups in a celebration of an achievement that has enhanced the local communirty and the individual lives of those who are vulnerable as they approach the end of their lives: the young people gain great pleasure in their involvement in celebrating the life stories and existence of their older friends through a process of friendship, acknowledgement and respect.
PRODUCING A COMMUNITY MAGAZINE
The young people involved in this programme decided that they would like to produce a community magazine that would reflect the history and pride to be found in Camp Hill.
They worked extremely hard to put together a magazine that they believed would reflect their community and where it felt it was: their history and the people now coming to live in that community.
The finished result is shown below. This was funded by the Police Commissioner of Warwickshire, who also helped with the distribution. All houses in Camp Hill recieved a copy.
Our young people really did enjoy visiting the new homes being built on Camp Hill and making their views known about how relevent hese were to local needs.
Please click on the arrow in the right hand corner for a full sized view of the magazine.
Values Education for Life 01827 711425
Values Education for Life
Values Education for Life