I recently attended the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust and Young Leaders Award ceremony. As part of the Youth Trust’s preparations for Easter, they had challenged young people across Northern England to be involved in 40 days of Youth-Led Action. Young people were encouraged to think beyond themselves and, rather than give something up for Lent, to consider what they could do to give something back to our world; a simple act of kindness that makes a difference in someone else life.
The Young Leaders’ Award is unique in providing practical opportunities for young people to open up their hearts and minds to the needs of others, which helps them develop invaluable life skills. As a result, students are able to experience and model values such as compassion, patience, self-control, gentleness, a desire for justice and concern for others.
One of the examples shown was a school who looked at how they could work together to make a difference for the elderly within their community. Having made links with an elderly residents care home, they began to explore what they could do to provide an afternoon of entertainment for the residents, many of whom had dementia. For many of the students, working with people of that age group, and being faced with a situation that they were not familiar or comfortable with, was challenging but rewarding. So beneficial was the impact on both residents and students, that the students and staff at the care home want to continue this partnership and plans for regular volunteering slots are being put in place.
The Trust believes that developing the character of Young People is an integral part of the roles of educators, and in recent months the spotlight has been placed on the importance of social justice in helping students to become well-rounded individuals. Nicky Morgan the Education Secretary stated that “Character Education is part of our core mission to deliver real social justice, by giving all children, regardless of background, the chance to fulfil their potential and achieve their aspirations.”
Through the Young Leaders Awards the Trust has so far empowered 33,000 young people in 4% of the schools across the north of England,
developing their leadership and team-working skills, improving their levels of empathy and developing character traits such as perseverance and
resilience. We have some great young people, so let’s get behind them and help them reach their full potential as this scheme is already doing.