It’s a sunny morning during the school holidays and while their classmates are out riding their bikes or playing video games, sixteen young people are giving back to their community.

The children, aged between 9 and 13, are taking part in Red Cross’ Young Humanitarians programme. During the week-long programme, young people take part in volunteering opportunities such as delivering Meals on Wheels and cleaning up Oreti Beach while learning more about how they can make a difference.

They’re also given opportunities to develop leadership skills, learn first aid and train with Red Cross’ Disaster Welfare and Support Team.

Red Cross Southland Humanitarian Services Coordinator Peter Saba says the programme, run in collaboration with Number 10 Youth, is a way to show children how rewarding volunteering can be.

“Young Humanitarians is about showing young people that it can be fun to give back. The participants have had a lot of fun and quite a few laughs this week, so hopefully they’ll be inspired to continue volunteering and helping others as they get older.”

One of the most popular parts of the programme is delivering Meals on Wheels, he says.

“It gives them a chance to interact and chat with older people in their community, people from a different generation, which they really enjoy.”

Adele Pink, 13, signed up for the programme with her younger brother, Caleb, 10, and says it has been a fun experience.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned is that if you see someone in trouble, you shouldn’t ignore them. You should go and help.”

The Young Humanitarians programme is one of several youth development programmes Red Cross runs around New Zealand.