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Music and sporting events are mass gatherings with unique risks related to participation. “All-ages” events, which include participants below the age of majority (18 in many jurisdictions), have been observed to have an over-representation of patient presentations in the youth category. Peer helpers may lower the barrier to seeking on-site care. Youth (peer-aged) volunteerism provides opportunities for exposure to new environments, skills, and mentorship. Medical volunteerism may promote personal satisfaction through prosocial behavior (i.e., helping others), community engagement and immersion into a potential health professions career path.
We conducted an observational pilot feasibility study with feedback forms and semi-structured interviews. The pilot program paired youth with parents/guardians/responsible adults as health care volunteers at special events.
Youth/adult dyads volunteered for a variety of events in Canada during the 2018 event season. All participants in the “Juniors Program” completed at least a Standard First Aid course, including orientation to personal safety and confidentiality. Each pair worked in one of two areas: first aid or Festival Health (the harm reduction space at music events) providing peer-to-peer and “all-ages” support. Post-event feedback from the dyads revealed many positive experiences and universally called for more opportunities.
A strong volunteer base is an asset to any community. In this pilot study, the volunteer experiences were supervised by a team of credentialed health care professionals. The authors report on qualitative feedback in themes based on patient perspective, volunteer perspective, team perspective, and event management perspective. More research is needed to measure the outcomes of the Junior’s Program. More Investigation is needed to determine not only the long-term benefits of participation on event medical teams, but also to identify factors that shape a positive experience for youth, their parents, and the event participants that they support.
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