Encouraging your children to lend their time and service to the community is an essential teaching moment for parents – and a great opportunity to lead by example! Students in the Cayman Islands are also required to complete a minimum of ten hours of volunteering or community service. Get started with some of the examples below!
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Where to Start
Start as a family! Luckily there are a number of volunteer opportunities in the Cayman Islands that are perfect for families with kids of all ages. Decide together what type of activity you wish to participate in and how much time you can commit. Perhaps you’d prefer a variety of activities on a rolling basis, or you’d rather dedicate your time to a single charity.
Try to match the activity to your family’s interests so it doesn’t feel like a chore. When you have settled on a service, talk to your children about what to expect and be enthusiastic about your newfound responsibility!
Become an Animal Ambassador with CARE
What they do: Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts (CARE) is a self-funded volunteer organisation that is always looking for volunteers.
How to help: CARE needs help transporting animals to the surgery to be spayed or neutered. There is a CARE van (which allows animals to be crated) that adults can drive accompanied by their kids. Families can also help build animal feeding stations or assist with CARE's education programme within the local schools.
Who can help: Children of all ages can help if accompanied by an adult.
Dog Walking with the Humane Society
What they do: The Humane Society dogs love to be taken out for walks, whether it’s a short 10-minute jaunt or a trip to Seven Mile Beach to splash in the sea.
How to help: Simply turn up any day of the week (mornings are best) and you will be paired with a pooch suitable for your family’s ages and experience.
Who can help: Anyone and everyone! Children ages 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Deliver Meals on Wheels (MOW)
What they do: MOW provides daily, hot, nutritious meals to seniors, homebound and disabled persons throughout Grand Cayman. Meals are provided free of cost to the clients and delivered to their homes every week. This service supplies them with the assistance needed to retain their independence in their own homes for as long as possible. Feelings of isolation are also common in senior communities. Volunteers help provide important social interaction.
How to help: Sign up as a MOW volunteer and take your children with you when delivering meals. Teenage children who can drive can deliver meals during their holidays.
Who can help: As long as there is an adult present, age is not a disqualifying factor.
Church groups and organisations like the Girl Guides, Scouts and the YMCA provide great community engagement opportunities for children. Families can also partake in an hour of social, charitable and environmental activities on a basis that suits their schedule. Read on for some family-friendly ideas.
Pick Up Litter
How to help: Help keep Cayman beautiful by dedicating an hour a week to picking up litter. Plastic Free Cayman hosts monthly beach clean ups. Choose a different park or beach each time and spend an hour picking up litter. Make a game out of it and see who can pick up the most trash.
Who can help: Children aged five and up. Be sure to wear gloves and close-toed shoes and supervise children closely.
Create ‘Thinking of You’ Cards for the Sick
How to help: Making cards for the elderly and sick is an easy yet meaningful way to lift someone’s spirits and make a difference to their day. Residents of The Pines retirement community and patients of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society love to receive artwork and cards made by kids.
Who can help: Children of all artistic abilities and ages can make cards for residents and patients. Why not make it a craft activity the next time your child has a play date!
Host a Bake Sale for Charity
How to help: Let children sell homemade cakes and donate the proceeds to a charity of their choice. Not only do the kids feel the satisfaction of helping a cause, but they also get to flex their baking and maths skills. Set up a stand outside your home at the weekend and ask your friends and neighbours to pop by for a delicious treat!
Who can help: Children aged six and up can work on the stand, although adult supervision is advised.
Make a Food Donation Basket
How to help: Each time you shop at the supermarket, ask your child to pick a non-perishable item which can be donated to those in need. Once you have a number of items, donate it all to a local charity, such as Feed our Future or the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.
Who can help: Kids aged four and up will begin to understand how their actions can make a difference to others.
Help Cayman's Endangered Blue Iguanas
What they do: The rare blue iguana is endemic to the Cayman Islands but, over time, has suffered from habitat loss, vehicular traffic and other wild animals. The Blue Iguana Conservation Programme is helping to restore populations of this endangered animal. The programme, which is run by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, offers volunteer opportunities for those who wish to help care for these creatures, including feeding and pen cleaning.
How to help: Interested volunteers should contact email@example.com.
Who can help: Teenagers age 16 years and older can volunteer for this programme.
How to help: Christmas is a great time to introduce a family tradition of giving back and helping those who are less fortunate. Feed our Future and the Cayman Food Bank always appreciate gift certificates and/or non-perishable food items from Cost-U-Less and the local grocery stores. You can also bag up gently used clothing and toys to drop off at the Red Cross or the Humane Society Thrift Shop.
Who can help: Encourage the whole family to participate and spread goodwill to those in need.
At just 13-years-old, Jake Fagan and Ben Coak braved the Bogue to fundraise for the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI). The Bogue is the passage of water between Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and is the deepest inter-island channel in the Caribbean at 4,000 feet deep!
Jake and Ben completed the 9.6km open-water swim and raised $34,754, surpassing their $10,000 goal. The boys chose to donate to CCMI after visiting the research facility on a Year 6 school trip. "I was amazed by the work they did there," says Jake. "I liked that $20,000 of the proceeds we raised went towards funding scholarships. I think it's a good idea to get young Caymanians involved in wildlife research and to learn how to protect our ocean." Their fundraiser has been a great inspiration for other kids in Cayman. "It's so important to give back to our communities," says Ben. "It helps us focus on something bigger than just ourselves."