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Tonight on Perspectives: If we force kids to volunteer, does that defeat the purpose?

May 28, 2010
When we subject young people to “charity for credit” are we communicating something we shouldn’t? Namely, that charity to one’s neighbour can be neatly contained, scheduled and ticked off as just another item on a to-do list? Or is scheduled community service necessary to fashion the up-and-coming generation into a generous and compassionate one?soup kitchen
Our question of the week: “If we force kids to volunteer, does that defeat the purpose?” was subject to a whole range of perspectives (go figure):
Helen Grice Russo writes: “Yes. It is not called volunteering either.”
Meanwhile, Laura Ieraci takes the opposite stance and proposes that encouraging volunteering awakens young people to their own potential.
“No, organized class volunteer projects led most of the students in my high school class to experience giving themselves in service for the first time, inspiring them to continue on their own and, in one known case, changing their career path,” Laura writes.
Cindy Neil Sharp took the middle road suggesting that there are appropriate times to encourage volunteering:
“I think if it's a school requirement it totally defeats the purpose. If it's a home requirement it adds to the purpose. It's just teaching them to pray via their actions.”
So, what do you think?
Is volunteering as a curriculum requirement expanding the hearts of the young and awakening compassion? Or is it just presenting one more source of drudgery and misunderstanding in these young lives?
On tonight’s Perspectives we will delve into these issues and many others. For example, what are the long-term benefits of service? Are lives really changed through volunteering?
Join our host Pedro Guevara-Mann at 7 and 11pm ET (8pm PT), as he sits down with Tim Leeloy of ShareLife, Deirdre Pereira, a High School Chaplaincy leader and Clinton Machado a first year University of Toronto student to discuss their experiences with volunteering in Ontario’s schools.

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