More Than 40 Hours: Encouraging Youth to be Engaged with their Communities


by Laurie Taniguchi
Communication and Volunteer Coordinator

High school students need 40 hours of community volunteer work in order to graduate.  As a volunteer manager in a youth serving agency, I think this requirement is a very positive addition to the high school curriculum.   It gets kids out there, into their community, experiencing new things and building real world job experience.

jeromeMany youth that apply to our volunteer program have already earned more than their 40 required hours!   In addition to completing this high school graduation requirement, they are volunteering to find out more about interest areas, research future career options, give back to their communities, spend time with their friends outside of school, get involved with causes they are passionate about and build job skills.  I wrote about these benefits of volunteering for youth in my blog post from last year.

My advice to youth who are looking to do some volunteer work and to get more involved in their communities is to think about their reasons for volunteering, what type of work/field they are interested in, and realistic expectations about time, scheduling and location.

WhyVolunteerIt’s also an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.   We have volunteer opportunities here at St. Alban’s.  I know many of our youth program participants are tempted to volunteer here, because it’s a place they already know and are familiar with.  However, all of our volunteer opportunities for youth are directly working with children ages 6-12.  If working with children is not for you, then our youth volunteer program is likely not the right fit!   Now’s your chance to get involved with something more suitable for your interests and career goals.

Some great ideas of places where youth can volunteer in Toronto! 

The following agencies all accept high school students as volunteers and are currently recruiting.

Interested in the environment and conservation?

Friends of the Rouge Watershed
Evergreen Brickworks 

Interested in history?

Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum

Interested in sports?

The Scotiabank Pro-Am for Alzheimer’s in Support of Baycrest Victoria Aniyah Aldwin

Interested in gardening?

Urban Roots Youth Program Volunteer

Interested in the arts?

Toronto Youth Shorts
CANFAR Art-based high school volunteer


Volunteer Toronto is a great resource for youth who are trying to find the right volunteer opportunity. Not only are you able to search specifically for opportunities for youth ages 14-18, but they also talk about all the great reasons for high school students to volunteer beyond the required 40 hours for high school graduation.

Whether it’s at St. Alban’s or another community agency, I’m sure that the right volunteer opportunity is out there for each and every high school student.  If you need help in finding a position that meets with your interest and skills, come in to the Club and ask one of us to give you a hand!   Employers and post-secondary admissions offices look for a varied background of experience when considering applicants, so it’s probably the right time for you to get started on volunteering beyond the 40 hours!

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