By Emilie Ng
KIRA Seeley loves nothing more than taking one day off every month to be a kid again.
The 25-year-old freight industry project co-ordinator has been a volunteer with the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland state youth department for the past seven months as “buddy” to disadvantaged children.
Buddies Day programs offer children aged eight to 12 a day away from their normal home situations for a day out with teenage and young adult role models like Kira.
“One day really changes lives,” she said.
Kira recently hopped on a bus with more than 40 children headed for Coolum for the program’s Kids’ Camp getaway.
The former Catholic school student said volunteering was an important part of her high school studies.
“I volunteered at a home for the elderly one day a week in Year 11,” Kira said.
Between working full-time and studying a masters of business administration, she put volunteer opportunities on the backburner.
But stressful days made her turn to Vinnies Youth’s Buddies Day program.
“I think the kids give me the energy and positivity I need,” Kira said.
“It puts your life and worries into perspective.
“I have just as much fun as they do.”
Kira said the Buddies Day program offered children from disadvantaged homes an “empowering environment”.
“The biggest change I see in kids is the confidence they have from being in an empowering environment,” she said.
“Last month we decided to ask some of the 12-year-old kids, who are soon becoming teenagers, to be our senior leaders.
“We got them involved and I saw their confidence levels rise.
“It makes them feel important.”
St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland state youth manager Cassandra Bull said volunteers like Kira were the “life blood” of programs and services for disadvantaged children.
“On the Kids’ Camp the children experience one-to-one support from our dedicated volunteers,” Miss Bull said.
“We offer training and support for our volunteers including opportunities for leadership training.
“Our volunteers are students, professionals, athletes, freelancers from different backgrounds who are looking to give their time to help young people in need.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland state youth department on firstname.lastname@example.org.