In between school, sports and other activities, making time to volunteer can seem hard for teenagers. But helping others can be really good for them.

“Volunteering helps teens develop a better sense of who they are,” says Jeffrey Rothweiler, PhD, clinical child psychologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “It also teaches kids to be kinder.”

There are practical benefits to volunteering as well. Teens get experience that can be listed on college and job applications.

Getting Started

Find a local group that supports a cause your child cares about. Kids are more likely to stick with volunteering if they enjoy it.

Ask about age limits when you start looking for places. Some groups want kids to be a certain age or will allow children to volunteer only if a parent comes with them.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is always looking for teenagers age 16 and older to give their time.

“We have about 250 volunteers in our hospital each week,” says Kelly Westfall, volunteer coordinator at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “These volunteers stay with patients and their families. Whether it’s playing Uno or just giving mom and dad a break, our volunteers really help make our hospital a better place.”

Learn more about volunteering at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Call the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Center for Families Resource Library at 314.454.KIDS (5437) and press “5” for a list of local volunteer groups.