This time of year sees a steady stream of Year 12 students visiting me in my office. They drop in for a chat and to request a statement outlining their volunteer history, including the names of the organisations and the time they spent volunteering with these groups.
Increasingly, students are gaining credit for entry into further study or obtaining scholarships, based on their involvement with community groups. This comes as a surprise to many students (and parents) who may have only previously regarded community service as something they have been directed into as a feel-good activity or as part of Wesley’s commitment to the ideals of John Wesley.
Just this week the Sydney Morning Herald published an article outlining the proposed reform to the ANU’s admission policies, ‘a university spokeswoman confirmed those who achieve top marks will not be accepted into a course if they haven’t satisfied at least “three points” on the new co-curricular or service schedule, which had been designed to assess “the whole person”.’
This trend is something that has been building momentum for some time but, for us, it just adds another string to the bow when discussing the benefits of getting involved in your community. In the Senior School, during 2017, Wesley students volunteered 7053 hours of their own time (outside of school hours) with community groups.
Another reason for our focus on volunteering and the notion of belonging to an organisation outside of family and friends – are the wellbeing benefits. Many of you will be familiar with the Act, Belong, Commit campaign, encouraging all of us to be more active in our communities. This campaign complemented the 2010 Australian government’s National Male Health Policy that also encourages ‘Participation in community activities to positively shape mental health and their ability to deal with adverse life events’.
If your mind is open, there are so many benefits to be gained from volunteering. Hearing the stories of others, learning a new skill and understanding that society is complex all contribute to a holistic education. More than ever, students must be equipped to be purposeful doers!
Director of Service Learning and Leadership
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