Allison Kennedy is a grade 12 student who has been volunteering for New Directions and is thrilled to share her experience – and what volunteering means to her. She tutors at a New Directions location and has had a wonderful and rewarding time learning, growing, and helping others.

“My favourite thing I’ve learnt so far is patience and organizational skills,” she says. Volunteering has encouraged Allison to plan and pick something fun and intriguing to do as an activity with the individuals she assists. She has an amazing student that she has built a special bond with. “Sometimes they don’t like the activities I have picked, and I have to be open to changing the plan.” This has helped Allison become better at adapting to situations – and being understanding of other’s needs. Keeping youth engaged and attentive can be a challenge, but Allison says this has taught her to become more patient.

“Something that surprised me is how much fun volunteering is,” she says. She finds great excitement in watching youth learn and tell her what they want to do. She has found lots of joy in building a relationship with New Directions youth, specifically in finding interests they both have in common. “I finally found some common ground – SCIENCE!” she states with excitement. “They love to do “explosions” or any kind of science experiment that makes a mess.” This is lots of fun for both Allison and those she tutors, and a great way to experience a more hands-on way of education!

Volunteering has also assisted Allison in getting out of her comfort zone, she says. “I am able to put myself into situations I haven’t before,” she says. This has greatly helped her character development, and helped her grow into a more empathetic, caring, and thoughtful individual. Another benefit she has uncovered is time management. “Being a grade 12 student, I sometimes find it hard to keep due dates organized or plans I have, but volunteering has really taught me to be on top of my game,” she notes.

When asked if she would recommend volunteering as an experience for other high school students to try, Allison says it’s a very easy yes. “[Volunteering helps with] learning new life skills, organizational skills, humility, character traits, and many more,” she describes. She also points out how volunteering can help in future career and school endeavors, as many jobs and university applications look for volunteer experience.

“Some schools can also offer credits for volunteering.” Allison points out. For many high school students, this can alleviate some of the stress of getting loads of credits before graduation. Some of the skills learned through volunteering can make high school life a little easier – like improving the ability to stay organized and motivated. She highly recommends it as a positive way to fill a schedule and feel productive.

Volunteering with New Directions is a wonderful way to make a positive connection with the community while simultaneously developing skills that last a lifetime. It is an unforgettable experience full of challenges and growth. Allison is thrilled to have made a difference in the lives of others, and New Directions is lucky to have her share her story.

New Directions invites high school students to volunteer with us – to learn more, visit Volunteer – New Directions.