Young People Power Social Responsibility Programme

Young People Power Social Responsibility Programme
Instead of feeling like I was teaching the children something, I felt that they were actually teaching me: teaching me to have patience and open-mindedness...” said one Sixth Former about the voluntary work she carried out in her first year at St Aloysius College.
More than 230 students aged 16-17 are taking part in this year’s Social Responsibility Programme promoted by St Aloysius College Sixth Form. The programme is a core component of the all-round educational experience at the College in the Jesuit vision of forming men and women for others. Formerly known as the Community Service Programme, the scheme in its present format is now in its sixth year running.
All first-year students are required to sign up for the programme and to engage in a minimum of 55 hours of service. Students are free to contribute more hours if they choose to do so. Many not only continue giving service well beyond the programme requirement but also seek to take up more demanding responsibilities or to join voluntary work experiences abroad offered by the Jesuits or by other voluntary organisations.
At St Aloysius we would like our students to open up to the needs of other persons, particularly the poor and the disadvantaged. The College favours people-to-people service that enables students to leave personal concerns aside and to look beyond themselves. As one student put it: “Despite the fact that the community work was something I enjoyed doing, it didn’t mean that it was plain sailing all along. At times, because of the constant commitment, I felt exhausted. My packed schedule meant that I sometimes had to stop doing other things in order to continue with my community work.
A rough calculation shows that our students are contributing a staggering 12,000 hours of unpaid service provided to individuals or groups in government, local council or church-run establishments as well as with NGOs. There are young people serving in Jesuit-inspired projects such as the St Aloysius College Reading Club (serving children from the Birkirkara area) and the Paulo Freire Institute in Żejtun. Many work in homes for the elderly, children’s homes, as well as in care and respite centres  or in after-school programmes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many give service in the church in their home town or in church-related organisations such as Y4J, MUSEUM and the Neo-cathechumenate.
The Social Responsibility Programme is coordinated by the Sixth Form Chaplaincy. As part of this programme, the Chaplaincy is pleased to introduce the innovative Springboard Youth Volunteers Training Programme, a joint initiative between the Sixth Form and University Chaplaincies promoted by inYgo – the Jesuit Youth Network, with the financial support of the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector. Training sessions start in March and will run until May: they will not merely serve the ends of the Social Responsibility Programme but would like to offer a springboard for young people as they consider their future orientations.

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