Monday, June 16, 2008

Volunteering is bad.

After speaking with a friend and hearing her definition of volunteering, I thought about writing this post: to know your opinions. Chatting we realized that our associations with the word "volunteering", were quite different.

In the past I volunteered in Italy and in Ireland, to help and assist children. What really surprised me, in both cases, was the atmosphere. People living with other people, and sharing everything. Children were helping us (me and other volunteers) to think differently about life, adopting a different perspective. We were there to give them back their hopes.

Sharing (as well as helping) aspect of this attitude is completely eclipsed behind what seems to be just an economic issue. "Volunteers are people who are not paid for working", said my friend - expressing a common thought. If that is the normal assumption (in Italy I'm quite sure it is), social volunteering has a high obstacle to overcome, starting from its name.

What about your countries? Is there a name to indicate who helps other people just for the sake of it? Can you translate it in english? If not, may we find one?

They are "activists", but activism is probably a too aggressive concept... and not the most important one.
"Helpers" would sound better... but we loose the sharing side...
I'm thinking about firefighters ... for their generosity... social volunteering is probably fighting the bad fate...

Any help?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Healthy Santas

Fitness may be a matter of attractiveness.
WiiFit is a great game/tool because through it incentive (gaming pleasure) takes over sacrifice (workout)
Nothing new, it's something similar to flavoured cough syrup for children.
Simple, effective, helpful.
"An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation" (Levitt & Debner, Freakonomics)

We are planning for good, so I spen some time thinking of a different, often weaker target: older people.
For them attractiveness is no more an issue, video gaming is not a pleasure, but phisical exercise is a vital need. A good incentive might work on the emotional link with their grandchildren.

What about digitally recording (something like Nike+Ipod) the phisical exercise of theese people and link their performance with prizes?
No digital stuff? We can set up a more familiar dynamics: loyalty scheme through club card points
- Selection of itineraries (parks or pedestrian areas)
- Exercise tracking through coupons validation -start/check points/arrival marks
- Itineraries completion give you points for the club card
Prizes: free cinema tickets (Cartoons), free entrances to leisure parks, zoos...

Incentive and sacrifice, does it make sense?