How teens can take a vacation and benefit the community

Did you know you could go on vacation – and do good while feeling good??

Through Beaches’ newest volunteer-teenism program, Island Impact, full-time students can earn community service hours through a variety of volunteer activities, including community outreach, beach cleanups and more. By participating in Island Impact, teens can earn up to 10 hours of service – five for Packing for a Purpose and five for an Island Impact initiative – which can be applied towards their school’s community service requirement. This new program is a win-win situation for everyone involved!

Beginning with “pack for a purpose,” Beaches customers are encouraged to pack merchandise for donation or children’s books for distribution throughout the Caribbean community by the Sandals Foundation. Plus, teens can join a Beaches’ Reading Road Trip, allowing them to visit local schools and focus on a day of edutainment focused on improving reading, listening and speaking skills. understanding of Caribbean students. Since 2011, nearly 15,000 Sandals and Beaches customers have joined a Reading Road Trip, donating their time and kindness to local communities. My husband Bill and I did the Reading Road Trip ourselves, and we visited a local school in the Turks and Caicos Islands to read books to absolutely lovely – and polite – kids in the Caribbean. It was a delightful and memorable experience.

Developed by the Sandals Foundation, the non-profit arm of Sandals Resorts International, full-time students can earn community service hours by participating in various volunteer activities while vacationing exclusively at Beaches Resorts. From participating in the Reading Road Trip to packing for a purpose and beach cleanups to helping local students hone their computer skills, as a member of the Island Impact team, teens can help make a positive difference in the local Caribbean communities of Jamaica and Turks & Caicos!

By participating in Island Impact, teens can earn up to 10 hours of service, which can be applied towards their school’s community service requirements. Best of all, they’ll be able to meet other teens and learn more about the local community they’re visiting.

I conducted an interview with Sandals Foundation Executive Director Heidi Clarke.

I didn’t know high schools had a community service requirement. Can you tell me about it?

We know that many states across the country require high schools to request community service hours as a condition of graduation, and others simply encourage their students to volunteer and give back in their free time — but the life of a high school student can be very busy. The Sandals Foundation and Beaches Resorts have therefore launched a “Volun-teenism” program which gives teenagers the opportunity to earn hours of community service while staying at any Beaches Resort! During their spring, winter, or summer break, teens can earn up to 10 hours of community service by giving back to local Caribbean communities through on-site activities and “Island Impact” tours offered by the resorts’ sister company, Insular Routes. Guests who participate in the “Volun-teenism” program will receive an official certificate via email that can be used to present to their schools for community service hours.

When does this program start and when does it end? Is it only open to teens 13-19? Only in the Turks and Caicos Islands?

The experiences in our “Volun-teenism” program are designed to be meaningful and truly impactful not only for our guests, but also for the land and people of all the islands in which Beaches Resorts operates and beyond. In addition to offering volunteer hours, these experiences give guests the chance to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the surrounding culture, its people, and natural environments while bonding with other guests.

Tell me about Packing for Purpose. What kind of goods can teenagers bring in their suitcase? Do they sometimes bring a separate suitcase just for donations?

Our partnership with Pack for a purpose was designed to be a seamless and easy way for guests to give back to local communities while vacationing at Beaches Resorts. We encourage customers of all ages to save up to five pounds of luggage space to bring needed supplies to our local communities. We have worked with Pack for a Purpose to identify the needs of local communities and actively communicate those needs with our customers prior to travel. Teens can pack items like notebooks, art supplies, new or gently used children’s clothes, educational toys, and more in their luggage and earn five hours of community service. Donations are accepted at the front desk of each Beaches Resort and are donated to local schools in each resort’s area.

Tell me about some of the community services and activities that are part of the program.

Onsite, we host activities such as beach cleanups that help create a positive, safe, and healthy home for our ocean and beach wildlife by removing trash and city debris from local beaches. Turtle hatching tours are another way for guests to leave an impact on the island while on vacation. This special experience runs from May through November in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where guests are invited to join the Sandals Foundation and local turtle conservation authorities to help monitor hatchlings and ensure they reach safe ocean water. It really is a beautiful way to give back to the surrounding natural environment and we encourage all families staying at Beaches Ocho Rios to participate.

The whole idea is just the ticket to the next spring break!

For more on my Wanderlust travels, please follow me on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.

About Gene Schafer

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