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US First Lady says more teens volunteering
01 December 2005
by Pauline Jelinek

Washington, D.C, USA: Some 55 per cent of teenagers do volunteer work, US first lady Laura Bush said Wednesday, encouraging adults to follow suit.

She announced results of a survey showing that an estimated 15.5 million youths - or 55 percent of people age 12 to 18 - participate in volunteer activities. That is nearly twice the adult rate of 29 per cent.

The survey was taken this year by the Corporation for National and Community Service in collaboration with the Census Bureau and Independent Sector, a coalition of 700 organizations and foundations. The telephone survey of some 3,200 youths found that 39 percent of volunteers do it regularly, meaning at least 12 weeks a year.

Youths contribute more than 1.3 billion hours of community service a year, the survey said.

Mrs. Bush said that in addition to helping others, teenagers who volunteer are less likely to engage in "risky behaviors" such as drinking or drugs.

"The other good news about it is that we know that volunteering can be taught," Mrs. Bush said. She said teenagers who volunteer "learned it from their families, they've learned it from their churches," schools, clubs, scouts or other organizations.

She spoke during a visit with a group from Washington's Cardozo High School. The two dozen teenagers had helped out at facilities around Washington during the morning, then met with Mrs. Bush at a church in the afternoon as they made bag lunches for homeless women.

"I'm very, very proud of this generation," she told reporters after meeting the teens. "I want to encourage adults ... to be sure that they volunteer" and "also teach their children how important it is to volunteer ... what a great feeling you get when your the one that helps people."

The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percent for the statistic that about 55 percent of teenagers volunteered in 2004.