Introduction to Action Clubs


What is an action club?

An action club is a group of children and / or young people who volunteer their services to help make the world a better place. Most action clubs work for their local communities although others work for causes both national and international. Action clubs rely on adult facilitators although this is not necessary for action clubs whose members are sixteen and up. For more information on these action clubs please click here.
volunteering for children and young people


Why do children and young people benefit from action clubs?

The purpose of action clubs is to develop in children through practical actions, the qualities of compassion and a strong sense of community belonging. The aim is to shift children's awareness off themselves and outward onto the community. This empowers them by making them feel like they can personally make a difference in the world, which gives their life more meaning. It encourages them to feel accepted and useful in their communities and society as they are contributing to it positively.


Other benefits include:

Improved self-esteem and confidence

Making connections with other people from all different cultural and economic backgrounds


Learning lessons such as cooperation, constructive problem solving, teamwork, respect and empathy with others less well off than them


Why young people in particular benefit from action clubs?

There is an important opportunity in the lives of young people that is often overlooked and consequently wasted: idealism and the need to overcome injustices, with a little encouragement, develops naturally above the age of twelve. Normally their idealism is sentimental rather than practical. At this time they also have a lot of energy and they need to channel it. They need something to do; they need a cause or causes. Through action clubs, their idealism is channeled into practical, constructive actions that produce positive results. Indeed, doing good deeds without any expectation of personal reward encourages in them the natural self-development of good character.

'The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.'

— Mahatma Gandhi


What age group are action clubs aimed at?

Action clubs for children start at five-years-old and up. Action clubs are, however, most useful for young people twelve-years-old to eighteen. We have five different types of action clubs based on age group to make it easier to choose the best activities depending on the age of the members.


What are some of the activities action clubs can easily get involved in?
Befriending and visiting people in care homes; helping elderly people with their gardens; taking gentle natured animals to visit people in care homes; tree planting; protecting rainforests, coral reefs, wetlands; collecting litter from natural environments; cleaning the local community; advocacy; writing letters of support and encouragement for those in need; raising money for good causes; putting on plays to raise community spirits; helping refugees, disaster victims, homeless people, elderly people, disabled people, sick and hungry people, animals; the list goes on and on. For a more in-depth look please visit our 'Project Ideas' page.
volunteering for children and young people



How to start an action club:

Starting an action club is free. All you need to do is follow our simple step-by-step instructions.



Testimonial

To highlight the spiritual benefit to children and young people of group volunteering we recently received an email from a group of ladies who had just finished running a summer camp for children using our charity children's book Shanti the Grass-eating Lion to start an action club.

Here's a brief extract from their kind feedback:

'Jo read from Shanti to the children on our first afternoon together. We started the day with our opening circle in which each child lights a candle for our circle and we sing to greet each other. We made a wishing tree for our yurt in that time too. Then after lunch Jo led her session. She read to the children and talked with them about Action Clubs. They decided to go 'love raiding' to give appreciation to some of the adults who give a great deal to make our camp work for everyone. I can't tell you much about this because I ended up going off with one of the 5 year olds to follow him a-wandering. I met the group with water melon and apple when they returned, all very excited and full of their adventures. They wanted to hear more of Shanti's story and I think Jo might have ended up reading the whole book if I had not rescued her at the end of a chapter and suggested that we close our session now. She looked pretty tired to me from holding the space but she was also lit up with joy and delight. Later in the camp she finished reading the story, and though I don't think we made any more 'official' excursions as an Action Club, many of the children continued with random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Some of the young boys cooked breakfast on the last day to help the cooks. We are talking about feeding about 250 people. The gas canister ran out while they were working and they had to fry dozens of eggs on an open fire. They were magnificent. This was done by young boys between 10 and 14.'
volunteering for children and  young people


How it all began for us

A few years ago Korak Day began a school for under-privileged women in one of the poorest and most dangerous parts of Kolkata, India. As he used to make his way to and from the school, he noticed there were many children loitering around, often getting into mischief and trouble. Their parents were too poor to send them to school and to Korak their future looked very bleak and hopeless. Life expectancy in this place is very short especially if you are uneducated. So he extended his school to them and now has over five hundred children.

During these early days he often used to notice that many in the local community, particularly elderly people, were unable to clean up after themselves. They needed help but how to go about helping them was another thing. It was too much for him to do on his own. As the local area was a Muslim area, Korak had been studying Islam in order to better understand the local people and respect their culture. He came across a command given by their prophet Muhammad that it is a Muslim's sacred duty to care for and love his neighbour. It then went onto define a neighbour as everyone in the forty houses to the north, south, east and west. This gave Korak the idea for action clubs. So he gathered many of the children together and told them that if they wished to be happy, they needed all those around them to be happy. He then set them to work cleaning the neighbourhood. This uplifted the whole community and made the children feel good about what their efforts had achieved through seeing the smiles on the faces of the people they had helped.

One of the main purposes of Shanti Action Clubs, is to take Korak's example and spread it all over the world.

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© Shanti Lion Children's Trust: 2006, 2007
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