How YOU can help with the Special Olympics?

Studies show volunteers themselves benefit from charitable activities. That’s just one of the many reasons to get involved in the Special Olympics

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Communities and society at large benefit greatly from volunteers. Recent studies have shown that volunteers themselves also benefit from their charitable activities.

Perhaps the first and biggest benefit people get from volunteering is the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their communities and neighbourhoods. Helping others kindles our happiness.

When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were.

According to a study in Social Science and Medicine, compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose seven percent among those who volunteer monthly and 12 percent for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16 percent felt very happy.

While intangible benefits like happiness, pride and satisfaction alone are worthwhile reasons to serve, the chance to gain marketable skills is another good reason to pitch in.

Acquire new skills

According to the 2000 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP), volunteering is often seen as an opportunity to acquire job-related skills and improve job opportunities. Almost one quarter (23 percent) of volunteers said that they volunteered for this reason.

The desire to improve job opportunities is a much more common motivation for volunteering among younger volunteers. Over half (55 percent) of volunteers aged 15 to 24 said that they volunteered to improve their job opportunities. Volunteering is an excellent way to learn new skills or stay sharp for potential employers.

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Healthy living

In addition to social benefits, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

Actual health benefits differ across age groups and show that older volunteers are more likely to receive greater health benefits than their younger counterparts. Some of the findings also indicate that volunteers who devote a “considerable” amount of time on volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are more likely to exhibit positive health outcomes.

So… get involved!

Abu Dhabi will host the Special Olympics MENA Games in 2018 and the Special Olympics World Games in 2019 making it the first city to host two major events, one right after the other. The games are expected to require 3,000 and 20,000 volunteers, respectively, to run smoothly. Consequently, Special Olympics has partnered with Volunteers.ae, the national platform for volunteers, to give you a chance to make your mark.

There are volunteer opportunities across many disciplines and Special Olympics asks that volunteers register for assignments based on their area of expertise. For example, if you have medical experience Special Olympics welcomes you to volunteer to give free medical screenings as part of the Healthy Athletes programme or provide sports and emergency care on site. Guest services, communications and technology are a few other volunteer categories.

Charles Scott of the Special Olympics Illinois Board of Directors has been a longtime volunteer. Over the years, he has learned that Special Olympics is a place that deeply appreciates its volunteers, their spirit and dedication.

“You know you’re really helping people who are differently abled than others,” he says. “That’s a gratifying experience for us all.”

To learn more and contribute to the success of your community by way of Special Olympics, visit: volunteers.ae/specialolympics

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