© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Students find educational benefits to volunteering

Claudia Toxopeus
SVA grocery delivery
SVA volunteer delivering groceries   Student Volunteer Army

As the country remains in lockdown, some secondary school students are learning through non-traditional means such as volunteering.

High school students Luke Jones and Rosa Davies are helping buy and deliver groceries during the Covid-19 lockdown.

They are part of the Student Volunteer Army, which is a movement born from a Facebook page started following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The network is focused on facilitating community action through youth engagement, preparing for disasters, and service.

Jones and Davies are two of about 100 people volunteering for SVA Christchurch's contactless grocery service. The service is designed for those aged over 65, essential workers and those with specific medical or personal circumstances. Volunteers meet at New World Ilam at 7am (one hour before it opens to the general public) to pick up items ordered online by the previous day.

Rangi Ruru Girls' School student Rosa said volunteering taught her things she wouldn't learn in a classroom, whether it was on or off campus.

She said managing the shopping lists of five different people in a supermarket she had never been to before and keeping the cost down was challenging and stressful.

"It was a great test of my personal abilities," Rosa said, adding she had learned more about herself than she would have in an hour-long chemistry period.

Luke, who is the head boy at Riccarton High School, said SVA was the perfect example of the Kiwi attitude towards great challenges.

"We have come together, going above and beyond the regular call of action, to try and spread three main fundamental values. Hope, Aroha, and Kindness," he said.

"Together we have achieved great things, and we will definitely continue doing so."

SVA head of communications Brooke Mills said the organisation aimed to create a culture of volunteering among young Kiwis.

"The advantages of volunteering for young people are, in a huge part, lessons learned (upskilling, communication, teamwork), but frequently go beyond that too. A huge part of it is social connection, doing something productive with likeminded people," Mills said.

She said several volunteers were saying the work was beneficial to their mental health.

Click here for more information about the Student Volunteer Army.

SVA volunteer
SVA volunteer collecting groceries Student Volunteer Army