Did you know that you could go on vacation – and actually do good while you feel good??
Through Beaches’ newest ‘volun-teenism’ program, Island Impact, full-time students can earn community service hours through various volunteer activities including community outreach, beach cleanups and more. By participating in Island Impact, teens can earn up to 10 service hours– five for Packing for a Purpose and five for an Island Impact initiative – which can be applied to their school’s community service requirement. This new program is a win-win situation for everyone involved!
Starting by ‘packing for a purpose,’ Beaches guests are encouraged to pack goods for donation or books for children to be distributed across the Caribbean community by the Sandals Foundation. Additionally, teens can join a Beaches’ Reading Road Trip excursion, allowing them to visit local schools and focus on a day of edutainment focused on improving reading, listening, and comprehension skills among Caribbean students. Since 2011, nearly 15,000 Sandals and Beaches guests have joined a Reading Road Trip, donating their time and kindness to local communities firsthand. My husband Bill and I have done the Reading Road Trip ourselves, and we visited a local school in Turks and Caicos to read books to absolutely charming – and polite – – children 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 taking part in various volunteer activities while vacationing exclusively at Beaches Resorts. From participating in the Reading Road Trip to Packing for a Purpose and from beach clean‐ups to helping local students’ sharpen their computer skills, as an Island Impact team member, 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 service hours– which can be applied to their school’s community service requirement. Best of all, they’ll get to meet other teens and get to know more about the local community they are visiting.
I conducted an interview with Sandals Foundation Executive Director Heidi Clarke.
I didn’t realize that high schools had a community service requirement. Can you tell me about that?
We know that many states around the country require high schools to ask for community service hours as a graduation requirement, and others simply encourage their students to volunteer and give back during their free time – but the life of a high schooler can be very busy. So the Sandals Foundation and Beaches Resorts started a “Volun-teenism” program that gives teens the opportunity to earn community service hours while staying at any Beaches Resort! During their spring break, winter or summer vacations, teens can earn up to 10 hours of community service by giving back to the local communities in the Caribbean through activities on-resort and through ‘Island Impact’ tours offered by the resorts’ sister company, Island 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 Turks and Caicos?
The experiences under our “Volun-teenism” program are designed to be meaningful and truly impactful not only for our guests, but also to the land and locals of all the Islands in which Beaches Resorts operates on and beyond. In addition to providing 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 sorts of goods can teens bring in their suitcase? Do they ever bring a separate suitcase just for donations?
Our partnership with Pack for a Purpose was designed to be an ongoing and easy way for guests to give back to local communities while on vacation at Beaches Resorts. We encourage guests of all ages to save up to five pounds of luggage space to bring needed supplies to our local communities. We’ve worked with Pack for a Purpose to identify the needs of the local communities and actively communicate these needs with our guests pre-trip. Teens can pack items such as notebooks, art supplies, new or gently used children’s clothes, educational toys and more in their luggage and earn five community service hours. Donations are accepted at every Beaches Resorts front desk and are donated to local schools around each resort’s region.
Tell me about some of the community services and activities that are part of the program.
On-resort, we host activities such as beach cleanups that help create a positive, safe, and healthy home for our ocean and seaside wildlife by eliminating waste and city debris from local beaches. Turtle hatching tours are another way guests can leave an island impact while on vacation. This special experience occurs from May to November in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where guests are invited to join the Sandals Foundation and local turtle conservation authorities to help monitor newborn turtles and make sure they reach the ocean water safely. It’s truly a beautiful way to give back to the surrounding natural environment and we encourage all families staying at Beaches Ocho Rios to take part in it.
The entire idea is just the ticket for upcoming Spring Break!
For more about my Wanderlust travels, please Follow me on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.