|National Volunteer Week 08-14 May 2017
It’s National Volunteer Week, and I am proud to be part of such a wonderful organisation that is made up of thousands of volunteer Leaders and Supporters who teach the value of volunteering to our youth members. My travels across the length and breadth of our State remind me of the amazing contribution you each make. I want to thank you for the contribution you make each day, each week, and each year to the young people of NSW. You are each an inspiration to me! While I know the reason our Leaders and Supporters are involved in Scouting is to support young people, it is also important to understand the contribution made to the NSW community. The time you give is valuable and the economic benefit to our local communities through Scouting is more than $10 million each year. Wow! Because of you, our youth members are inspired and engaged in a program that develops their confidence, resilience and leadership. They become engaged members of their local community and learn that giving is as valuable as receiving. We couldn’t do this without you and the vital role you play. It is important that you feel valued, acknowledged and supported. Today, and every day, we celebrate this contribution. During National Volunteer Week (May 8 – 14) you can also thank your Leader or another inspirational volunteer member of Scouting by uploading a selfie with them and sharing what makes them so awesome on the Scouts NSW Facebook Page or on Instagram with the tag @scoutsnsw #thankaleader
16-year old Scout, Lucie Myslikova from Brno Czech Republic stands up to hatred at a neo-Nazi rally. Her hand-written banner read, “A good patriot doesn’t need to Heil”. The story was also posted by the World Organisation of the Scout Movement in support for values of diversity, peace, and understanding to create a better world.
Today, we recognise worldwide the birthday of our Founder, Lord Baden Powell, who was born on this day on 1857. I am sure our Founder would be proud that his Movement now has some 40 million Members worldwide, with a presence in 216 countries. It is the largest and longest running youth development organisation in the world.
This is also an opportunity for your Board Chairman (Kerry McGoldrick), General Manager (Andrew Smith AM) and me, as Chief Commissioner, to thank you sincerely for your commitment to Scouting across NSW. As I travel the length and breadth of our State, listen to our members and participate in hundreds of Scouting activities, I am inspired by the dedication of our adult Leaders, our Supporters and our youth. I recognise the sacrifices you make, often with your own families, to devote to Scouting and to the young people of your community. Thank you! I never fail to be amazed by our youth! Last Sunday, whilst at our Australian Scout Museum at Newington Armory, Sydney, I talked with youth from the 1st Picnic Point Scout Group. We were talking about the importance of Founder’s Day, and I asked them who knew the year our Founder was born. A quiet young Cub from the back quickly raised his hand and proudly announced 1857! Of course he got the prize! Listening to our youth was not my only privilege at that event. I had the great privilege of investing a number of new members to our State Heritage Fellowship. They all do a great job, with our Deputy Chief Commissioner (Strategy), our Assistant State Commissioner, our Curator, and our volunteers at looking after our valued heritage items. It is an important part of Scouting, especially for our future generations. Thank you for your support of Scouting across NSW and for the important role you play in the development of our worldwide Movement!
With best wishes, Yours in Scouting, Neville Tomkins OAM JP Chief Commissioner Scouts Australia (NSW Branch)
Scouts and guides have better mental health in later life
Taking part in the scouts or guides appears to help lower the risk of mental illness in later life, a study suggests.
Children who participate in the organisations – which aim to develop qualities such as self-reliance, resolve and a desire for self-learning – are likely to have better mental health in middle age, the findings show.
Such activities, which frequently involve being outdoors, also seem to remove the relatively higher likelihood of mental illness in those from poorer backgrounds, the results showed.
The findings were drawn from a lifelong study of almost 10,000 people from across the UK who were born in November 1958, known as the National Child Development Study.
Scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, who analysed the data, found that those who had belonged to the scouts or guides tended to have better mental health at age 50.
Around one-quarter of study participants had been in the scouts or guides, and those were found to be around 15 per cent less likely to suffer from anxiety or mood disorders, compared with others.
Researchers say their findings suggest programmes that help children develop skills such as self-reliance and teamwork, and encourage being active outdoors, may have lifelong benefits.
Attending the guides or scouts may help build resilience against common stresses in life, or it may increase a person’s chances of achieving more in life, so that they are less likely to experience such stresses, researchers suggest.
The study, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
It is quite startling that this benefit is found in people so many years after they have attended guides or scouts. We expect the same principles would apply to the scouts and guides of today and so, given the high costs of mental ill health to individuals and society, a focus on voluntary youth programmes such as the guides and scouts might be very sensible.
Governments and health services around the world struggle to do something about the health gap between richer and poorer people, so this new evidence that being a scout or guide can help is very important.
I am really proud that scouting provides young people with an opportunity to develop the skills they need to be resilient and deal with what life throws at them. Through initiatives such as our A Million Hands Campaign, the Scout Association is helping give young people the ability to develop mental wellbeing throughout their lives.