Being a volunteer at 23 I have often been asked; “do you even have any life experience”? Perhaps a suitable question, however I beg to differ.
For as long as I’ve been trying to work out ‘what I want to be when I grow up’, I’ve always known working with young people was my calling, however finding my niche within such a large field was always going to be a struggle. I studied to be a teacher’s aide before moving my focus completely to teaching, however that was soon shelved when I decided teaching was not for me and began a degree in community development. It was then research on what exactly community development was, that lead me to discover the Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program (YRIPP).
At YRIPP we receive callouts to young people who have been arrested and may be subject to police interviews. We assist them through this process and then offer them referrals to programs that can enable them to find a new direction in life. I have been volunteering with YRIPP for nearly a year, and have found it to be everything that the world needs. Being in a police station can be a daunting experience for anyone, let alone a young person who is alone and afraid of what’s to come.
Through this program, I have met so many young people from all backgrounds of life, some are trying to change their life and turn it around, and I get to be a part of that experience, to try and provide support for them in their time of need, as well as referrals to give them a boost in the direction they want to go. Not only do I get to support these young people, but they have also shown me resilience and a different view on the world that I could never fathom. I find that being closer in age to the young people helps me to build a relationship with them and for this experience in life, I will always be grateful.
What does all this have to do with life experience you may ask? Well without YRIPP I may have had none, but with it, I have a world of it. It’s something you can only reap the benefits of by being a part of it.