How can extracurricular activities benefit me?

Extracurricular activities are a great way to have some fun and make new friends!

What is an extracurricular activity? 

An extracurricular is any activity that you participate in outside of school or work. They can be done in groups or alone. They add variety to your life if you’re bored of your routine, and they’re a good way to explore your personal hobbies and interests. 

Extracurriculars can include things like

  • sports and fitness activities 
  • the arts, like learning an instrument or painting or writing
  • video or board gaming groups
  • school clubs
  • religious groups 
  • volunteering  

Why are extracurricular activities important? 

Extracurricular activities are important because it’s something you choose for yourself. You don’t do it because your parents or teachers tell you to, but because it’s something that interests you, makes you happy, or challenges you. While some extracurriculars can be a good way to pass time, they can also become lifelong hobbies.

Extracurriculars, especially when done in a group, can help you feel less isolated and make more friends. They can also help keep you active, get out of the house, and look good on a college application or resume. 

Where can I find extracurricular activities? 

A good first place to start is through your school. Many schools will advertise clubs and activities you can participate in in the school handbook, online, or on bulletin boards on campuses, community centres, libraries, and religious institutions (e.g., churchees, mosques, temples, etc.. 

Sometimes you can create your own group or club. If you want an extracurricular that is more structured, like a sports team, then it’s a good idea to ask teachers or other students where you can join. 

You can also look at local organizations like the YMCA or your local library. Places like the YMCA also organize camps and outdoor activities during times when school is out like summer holidays or March Break. 

Community centres have a variety of youth recreations  like classes or youth specific programming, and they have resources like gyms, courts, or meeting rooms that can be booked for your own club or group. These are usually less expensive than other private businesses, and can sometimes even be free!

How do I choose an extracurricular activity?

Start by exploring your interests. Think of something you want to learn or a hobby you have that you’d like to do with more people. Once you have a few interests identified, search your school, college, or local community centre to see what’s offered. 

While searching for the perfect extracurricular, ask yourself: 

  • How much time do I want to commit?
  • Is it casual like a drop-in program, or structured like a weekly class? 
  • Is it competitive, like a scholastic tournament?

Depending on the answers, you can rule out activities that don’t fit with your preferences or availability. 

What do I need to join an extracurricular activity? 

Extracurriculars can be free or they can have a fee. Some activities might require you to have your own equipment like an instrument for band or special clothing like a sports uniform. Make sure to do your research as many programs offer to cover the cost of fees or extra materials for low-income youth. 

If you are in school or college, ask the program leaders if you can get financial support. It’s important to note that community centres can have fees, but if you or your family receive Ontario Works or ODSP then some of these fees can be covered through the Welcome Policy subsidy program.  

Remember that extracurricular activities should not feel like an obligation; they should be fun and challenging in a good way, and they should bring you joy!