University of Wollongong student Michaela Adrao is riding a wave of euphoria after volunteering at an event for the Disabled Surfers Association last weekend. Held at Gerroa, the event attracted over 250 volunteers and Michaela said the enthusiasm of the participants and helpers was infectious.

AUDIO: Michaela Afrao refects on here expereince volunteering for the Disabled Surfers Association.

Michaela recommended the event to other university students who are looking to get involved in the community.

“It was such a rewarding experience. I can’t recommend it highly enough,” she said.

UOW Student Program Officer Justine Thomson said Michaela’s sense of personal satisfaction is common among volunteers.

“We really believe that volunteering and participating in things that are going to benefit the community makes such a difference to people,” she said.

“It can help people to feel more included and can give them purpose and help them feel empowered.”

She said, in addition to the mental benefits, volunteering could help students gain experience in their area of interest and meet potential employers.

Justine said the emotional benefits of volunteering were reward enough.

“Studies show that volunteering does improve satisfaction with your life and your level of happiness,” she said.

The next South Coast Disabled Surfing event is in November, but there are plenty of opportunities for students to volunteer in the Illawarra and at UOW.

“UOW as a whole offers heaps of opportunities for volunteering,” Justine said.

“Many of the clubs and societies are just purely based on volunteers and students who are really passionate about something.”

The University’s Wellbeing Centre is planning a new volunteer initiative, the Wellbeing Student Ambassador Program. The initiative will see students help the Wellbeing Staff run its weekly events and workshops.

“It will be ready for launch in two weeks,” Justine said.

“We’ve already been promoting interest and have had 80 students already signed up to be a part of it. We find that students want to be part of improving things for themselves and other people on campus and we want them to be involved in promoting a positive health message.”

Students looking to get involved with the Ambassador Program can sign up here, or they can visit to find out more information on the various opportunities for volunteering in and around the Illawarra.