• Working with pets is helpful for shy 12 year olds.Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

      Although working at an animal shelter may be disturbing for some 12 year olds, shelters have many different types of volunteer experiences that can bring about growth. Cleaning cages and playing with the adoptable pets are just a couple of possibilities; pet therapy work is another consideration. Pet therapy experiences allow 12 year olds the opportunity to spend time with animals and disabled or lonely people in the community. By pairing with an adult volunteer, 12 year olds can take shelter pets to places like nursing homes to visit with residents in a meaningful way.

      Computer-savvy or artistic 12 year olds can help produce promotional flyers for adoption events or work on items for volunteer banquets. Posting flyers or maintaining the cleanliness of the office or reception spaces are other helpful activities 12 years old volunteers can perform.


    • Whether it is in an institutional setting or in the community, working with "grandmas and grandpas" can be very meaningful for 12 year olds. Preteens can volunteer with community or religious organizations to do visits to shut-ins in the community, or work in senior centers or nursing homes to help with activities and special events. These 12 year olds can get to know seniors and learn about life before home computers and the Internet. Many organizations that accept youth volunteers can match 12 year olds with seniors who are willing to talk and interact with youth constructively. Volunteers can also work with occupational or experiential therapists, and learn about potential career paths.


    • Cleaning up the neighborhood with the local 4-H or a church group is a terrific way for 12 year olds to contribute to their community, and enjoy the great outdoors as well. Parks and town squares love the additional help with litter; working as part of a "clean-up team" brings a sense of satisfaction to preteens for a job well done. The 12 year olds can also bring change to a neighborhood by working with a low-income home building charity. Learning to use a hammer or paint a wall develops self-confidence and allows 12 year olds to learn from adults while helping a family in need. Developing a sense of doing-for-others helps build a lifetime passion for volunteerism.


    • Monitoring a playground, assisting with art projects at a fair or providing a helping hand at a day-care center are just a few ways a 12 year old can spend some volunteer time. Working with younger children in a supervised experience fosters a nurturing attitude, and gives them the opportunity to learn new skills. When you contact a day-care center, parks and recreation department or pediatric hospital, you can find a plethora of opportunities for growth for a preteen.

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