By: Kristen Simon, M.Ed, Ed.S
NESCA Transition Specialist; Psychoeducational Counselor
Volunteering has many benefits for school aged students beginning to participate in transition planning. Many charities and organizations rely on volunteers to continue their services and reach more people. In general, volunteering is a great way to form community connections, achieve a sense of purpose, and boost confidence and self-esteem, all while helping those in need. In thinking about a child’s eventual transition to adulthood, there are many additional hidden benefits to volunteering.
- Build social connections: Volunteering allows individuals to engage and connect with others in a structured environment. Working with others through task completion towards a common goal is a great way for individuals to form friendships and positive connections in a low-pressure setting.
- Mental health benefits: Volunteering has been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and loneliness. Many studies have shown that helping others and carrying out altruistic acts makes you happier. In fact, some therapists believe volunteering should be built into a treatment plan in the management of depression.
- Employment/Transition Skills: Volunteering can help individuals build various skills that will help them in future jobs. Volunteering can help develop leadership skills, one’s ability to work in a team, customer service, following instructions, and punctuality to name a few important pre-employment skills. Volunteering helps individuals learn what type of work they enjoy through exposure to various work activities and work sites. Consistent volunteer work can also help build a young person’s resume.
It may be decided that a good match leads to long-term volunteering; however, it does not have to be a long-term commitment. Consistent volunteering can be a helpful tool in the stressful seasons of the year. Helping others can help to clear your head, reduce stress, and bring a perspective that allows you to engage more fully in your other commitments.
If your child and or family unit is looking for volunteer opportunities, you can start by contacting local animal shelters, senior centers, public libraries, community centers, or food pantries. Other websites to locate family volunteer opportunities in the greater Boston area include:
About the Author
Kristen Simon, M.Ed, Ed.S, has worked with transition-aged youth as a licensed School Psychologist for more than a decade. She has extensive experience working with children and adolescents with a range of learning and social/emotional abilities. Kristen’s strengths lie in her communication and advocacy skills as well as her strengths-based approach. She is passionate about developing students’ self-awareness, goal-setting abilities, and vision through student-centered counseling, psychoeducation, social skills instruction, and executive functioning coaching. Mrs. Simon has particular interests working with children and adolescents on the Autism spectrum as well as individuals working to manage stress or anxiety-related challenges.
Mrs. Simon is an expert evaluator and observer who has extensive working knowledge of the special education process and school-based special education services, particularly in Massachusetts. She has been an integral part of hundreds of IEP teams and has helped to coordinate care, develop goals, and guide students and their families through the transition planning process. Mrs. Simon further has special expertise helping students to learn about their diagnoses and testing and the IEP process in general. She enjoys assisting students, families, and educators in understanding a student’s disability-related needs as well as the strategies that can help the student to be successful in both academic and nonacademic settings. Mrs. Simon has often been a part of teams in the years when students are initially participating in transition services, and she has helped countless students to build the skills necessary to be part of their first team meetings. She is committed to teaching students—as well as parents and educators—how to participate in student-centered team meetings and the IEP processes.
At NESCA, Mrs. Simon works as a transition specialist and psychoeducational counselor. She works with adolescents, their families, and their school communities to identify and build the skills necessary to achieve their postsecondary goals. Mrs. Simon provides transition assessment (including testing, functional evaluations, and observations), program observations and evaluations, case management and consultation, and individualized counseling and skills coaching.
To schedule an appointment with one of NESCA’s transition specialists, please complete our online intake form.
NESCA is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-658-9800.