Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Key to Balancing School and Community Commitments

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

Amanda Kuang - Calgary_webAmanda Kuang is a Youth Volunteer with YVC of Calgary and a member of our International Youth Advisory Board.

At times, life can get overwhelming, especially with commitments to school, sports, music and the community. These instances triggered me to think about maintaining balance from an outside perspective, and have taught me that the key to balancing multiple commitments is to understand your true intentions. Please allow me elaborate.

In order to balance multiple commitments, you must be able to earnestly define your objectives with your values and principle. Examining the true intentions of your actions must be done honestly and sincerely, and may even result in a nasty self-exposing process. For instance, some people volunteer to gain hours so that they may add an extra point to their resume, while others volunteer out of pure desire to reciprocate back into the community. No intentions are inferior. A greedy person who is faithful to the principle of greed can find their work just as enjoyable as a charitable person working to alleviate other people’s suffering. However, they both operate under the same principle, which is that they’ve aligned their values with their objectives, and are spontaneously dedicated as a result. This idea shows that it is vital for your intentions be true to yourself because it will ultimately bring you much more satisfaction and happiness.

When you truly love something, you will make time for it, even if it is difficult to do. For me, I find that when I wholeheartedly enjoy my commitments, I do not feel commanded to them. Instead, the commitments become enjoyable tasks. As a result, motivation to balance these with other commitments naturally occur. Thus, whatever it is, you should try to find a reason to feel passionate towards it, whether it is school or extracurricular activities, because at the end of the day, it is really about doing what you love that matters.

Calgary - Summer 2015 - 6

Here is some additional advice from your friends in Canada:

“Know what your limits are. You have to realize that your personal life is just as important as your desire to help others.”

Betty, 17, Toronto, ON

“Although trying new things may sound daunting, don’t be nervous. I encourage everyone to get involved in the community. You’d be surprised by what you can learn from volunteering and what you can gain in terms of developing yourself as a person and preparing yourself for the future.”

Brian, 16, Vancouver, BC

“Do not procrastinate. You should try out every different kind of volunteer work and learn what you enjoy doing. The first time may not be what you expect it to be, but you never know until you try. Maybe you’ll end up doing something you like for the rest of your life.”

Christy, 17, Calgary AB

Share this post:
Don’t miss a single story of youth changing the world! Sign up for our monthly newsletter here:

3 (FUN!) Teambuilders to Unite Any Group

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

2.24.16 3 Fun Teambuilders to Unite Any Group

Youth Volunteers always say that one of their favorite parts about serving with Youth Volunteer Corps are the fun activities incorporated into each project. Teambuilder games are always a hit because they can help turn a group from awkward silences to laughter and collaboration. With nearly three decades of experience incorporating these into YVC projects, we have built up quite the library of tried-and-true teambuilders.

A simple teambuilder game can be a crucial part of a service project, classroom activity or business meeting. Next time you need to take a group from individuals to team, try one of our favorites:


Supplies: A photograph that is full of action

Note: This activity is best done in groups of 4-8. If your team is larger than that, print off multiple photos and split the group into smaller teams.

This activity is like the game telephone except with a photo. Show the photo to one person for about 10 seconds. Instruct him/her to describe the photo to the next person for about 30 seconds, using as much detail from memory as possible. Make sure that no one else can hear the conversation. Ask the second person to describe the photo to the third person and so on. Once all team members have heard the photo described, have the last person describe what they heard to the entire group.

The description has most likely evolved from the original photo. Discuss this with the group:

  1. How did the description of the photo change?
  2. Was the last description given anything like the actual photo?
  3. How did communication break down?

One Way Communication

Supplies: Paper, pens for all

Draw a simple figure on a piece of paper (this could be a shape like a star or crescent or a very basic drawing) without letting the group see it. Still keeping your drawing hidden, describe to the group how to draw the same figure, using as much detail as you can, but without them saying what it is or using your body to describe it. For example, if you draw a star, you cannot say “draw a star…” but you can say “start your pens at the top center of your sheet and draw a line down and to the right…”). They are not allowed to ask questions. Once you finish describing your figure, ask them to flip over their paper and draw the figure as you describe it again, this time facing the group, answering questions, and using any movements necessary, but still not letting them see your drawing or looking at theirs and correcting them. Compare all the drawings to yours and discuss your communication strategies.

  1. Was it challenging drawing the figure initially? Why?
  2. What would have made your first drawing more successful?
  3. What does this exercise show us about the need to communicate?

Helium Stick

Supplies: A long but lightweight rod like a wooden dowel, tent pole, etc.

Gather the team together on both sides of your stick. Explain that this is a magic stick filled with helium, so it floats up uncontrollably. The team’s job is to slowly lower the stick to the ground. Every member of the team must place only one finger from each hand to support the stick. Once all team members have contact with the stick, instruct them to slowly lower it to the ground.

This is much harder than it sounds, as the stick has a tendency to rise instead of lower because of the many fingers supporting it. The team must figure out how to get the stick to the ground. Once the team is successful, discuss with them:

  1. Was this activity harder than you thought it would be? Why?
  2. What strategy eventually led you to success?
Don’t miss a single service project tip! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter:

Share this post:

Video of the Day: Now I’m Stronger

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

Amanda Kuang - Calgary_webAmanda Kuang is a Youth Volunteer with YVC of Calgary and a current member of the International Youth Advisory Board.

Hi friends,

Speak Your MindToday I want to you share with you an initiative of Youth Central (which hosts YVC of Calgary) called The Speak Your Mind Project. The Speak Your Mind Project was started with the passion of overcoming the stigma that surrounds the topic of mental health, specifically towards the youth populace in our city.
It is a social media based campaign aimed at normalizing the idea of mental illness by making it an accessible and recognizable subject. With the youth population becoming more vulnerable to experiences with mental illness, such as depression or bipolar disorder, we work towards providing a stronger level of comfort to all. The Speak Your Mind Project gives a voice to those who have felt marginalized to share their stories, which is what I am here to share with you today.

The Speak Your Mind Project has been committed to sharing stories of recovery and resilience through a recent campaign hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, #NowImStronger. We have created a video showcasing a diverse group of youth, sharing their stories and explaining what has made them stronger. I hope this video can become an inspiration for everyone to everyone to realize all the endless possibilities the world has to offer.

Share this post:
Don’t miss a single story of youth changing the world! Sign up for our monthly newsletter here:


Announcing Youth Volunteer Corps Day 2016

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

YVC Day graphic - FINAL


Katja Lemermeyer - Calgary_webKatja Lemermeyer is a Youth Volunteer with YVC of Calgary and a current member of the International Youth Advisory Board.

Did you know that there are more than 40 YVC affiliates across the U.S. and Canada? What about the fact that each one looks a bit different— varying in size, hosts, programs and types of projects?

For example, my local YVC, which is hosted by Youth Central in Calgary, Canada, is lucky to have thousands of volunteers, dozens of projects each week, and an online database to track hours. We partner with our mayor to have a Mayor’s Youth Council, and even run a blogging programme that allows youth to write about local events and youth issues to earn volunteer hours. However, while these things are what make YVC of Calgary unique, there’s also a commonality that is the same throughout all YVCs: the passion that inspires youth to come together to serve. It is this link that is also at the core of YVC Day.

Mark it on your calendar: on March 5th, 2016, hundreds of youth across the continent will be uniting for a day of service.

While it will look different for each affiliate, many youth are organising special projects and all of them are focused on the idea of “Project Happiness.” My local YVC began what we call “Get Happy projects” a few years ago, and now YVC Day will be taking that to a new level.

YVC of Kansas City will be placing “Acts of Kindness” tickets on cars to spread positivity and encourage people to share on social media to win a gift card. YVC of Calgary will be hosting a “Happiness Avenue” project—focusing on spreading happiness down a central walking street in Calgary. However, regardless of the way that youth will be spreading happiness this March, know that it’s not too late to get involved. Don’t hesitate to speak to your local YVC to see what they have planned!

Join in on social media with the hashtag #YVCday, and make sure you follow Youth Volunteer Corps on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get an exclusive look at YVC Day festivities across the U.S. and Canada.

Share this post:
Don’t miss a single story of youth changing the world! Sign up for our monthly newsletter here:

Book Review: Tomorrow’s Change Makers

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on



David Battey_webI just finished reading a powerful book regarding so much of what we strive to achieve at Youth Volunteer Corps. Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell’s Tomorrow’s Change Makers is a quick read mostly because of its reliance on stories—stories about youth who have grown up to care about their community and their world. The book has enough academic heft to be helpful in our YVC grant-writing but the stories are what make the book so engaging.

Some of you may have seen the Harvard report regarding admission to highly selective universities. Tomorrow’s Change Makers echoes some of the recommendations coming out of Harvard. Deep-dive service is more powerful than short-term episodic service. Deep-dive service in your own community is more powerful for youth than short-term mission trip service to other parts of your native country or foreign countries.

Indeed, several stories from youth in Marilyn’s book demonstrate the power of a diverse group of youth serving side-by-side in their hometowns. I’ve always felt it important that YVC not be infiltrated with a certain noblesse oblige—youth from wealthier areas going into poorer parts of the community to serve. The Harvard study and Marilyn’s book make clear the benefits that accrue from a diverse group of youth serving on a team. Perhaps YVC’s most apropos quote is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”

Marilyn Price-Mitchell’s book makes it clear that we are on the right path with YVC’s emphasis on quality, intensive, community-based service. She also makes it clear that our mission is of paramount importance if we are to have the involved, compassionate citizens our democracy needs.

Review by David Battey, YVC’s President and Founder.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter:

Share this post:

10 Ways to Make a Difference this Valentine’s Day

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

10 Ways to Make a Difference this Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, instead of just expressing your love to your friends and family, why not spread some joy to your whole community? Pick a favorite from our list of 10 ways to make a difference this Valentine’s Day to create a ripple effect of love and joy:

1. Make a Valentine card and deliver to someone who needs a smile.

2. Turn something that people ignore into a beautiful thing. Spend a few minutes picking up trash or scrubbing graffiti at a local park. Think of it as your valentine to your community!

3. Write a thank-you note to someone who has made a difference in your life. This could be a teacher, your YVC Team Leader, or even an agency that has welcomed you and your fellow volunteers this school year.

YMCA Growing Hope, 7-22-14.

4. Show the earth some love—plant a garden if you live in a climate that’s already showing signs of spring or research how to get involved in a community garden in a few months if there’s still snow on the ground outside.

5. Share positive messages around your school to help combat bullying (check out these anti-bullying compliment ideas).

6. Buy a package of Hershey Hugs candy to hand out outside your school, a mall, or anywhere where someone might appreciate a “hug.”

7. Serve a meal to someone who may not otherwise get to eat that day. The way to the heart is through the stomach, right?

Alpena 2015 best story (3)

8. Serve alongside a team of friends or friends-to-be. Sharing your love is even better when you serve alongside others who are doing the same.

9. Volunteer at an animal shelter to help bring some love to the furry members of your community.

10. Commit to volunteering at least once a month through the rest of the year to keep transforming your community one project at a time.

Share this post:

Youth Volunteer Corps, 1025 Jefferson St., Kansas City, MO 64105

©2019 Youth Volunteer Corps