Are you a leader?
Some youth would consider themselves as natural leaders either at school, university, work, at home or in organised events. In the current climate of constant distractions of social media and video games, the attention of the youth of today is taken away by phone devices, screen times or social gathering. Therefore, the youth should be encouraged to engage in life skills that would build their character and develop valuable skills in leadership. This would have a lasting impact on the rest of their adult life!
Youth empowerment is achieved through participation and encouraging the youths to take charge of their lives. Empowerment creates greater community, which could lead to activism. Some would see it as a gateway to improve the involvement of the young people in society through civic engagement, youth rights, youth councils and in community decision making processes.
The following are some of the benefits of youth empowerment:
Resilience: This helps the youth cope with the unexpected traumatic situations. It allows them to maintain a balance in life during difficult, stressful periods such as exam times.
Vision: This would prevent the unnecessary distractions and would keep them focused on what lies ahead.
Influence: This would allow some youth to impact others through sharing of experiences or knowledge.
Positivity: This would allow them maintain an optimistic mindset and see the bigger picture when things around them seem weary.
Empathy: This would allow some consideration of what others are going through and would prevent one from being judgmental.
Integrity: This is about trustworthiness and allowing their word to be their bond.
Competence: The ability to perform adequately in the world, not just academically but socially.
Confidence: The ability that the youth can achieve desired goals through their actions.
Connection: Knowing that the connection with others would lead to their own well-being and that of others. The youth need positive supportive relationship with parents, loved ones, peers, and teachers.
Caring: This is about making the world a better place by contributing to their environment, community or schools by being actively engaged citizens.
Goal-driven: This should support in helping the youth find the right direction.
Decisiveness: This should support the youth in making good decisions and not wavering or hesitating to commit to their life goals.
Accountability: There should always be some level of accountability given to the youth.
Mental & Physical Health: Exercise is good for their mental and physical health.This is a way of getting the youth into leadership roles when they find a sporting activity they enjoy, they would work towards being the captain or having the supervisory role within their sporting activity.
Positive environment leads to positive youth development; both are required for positive experiences.
There are several categories of leadership, I will mention two here:
Responsibility - There are so many pressures faced by the youth and teaching them responsibility enables them to cope. Giving the young people small duties even at school or at home, supports in building their self-confidence. They would remember to pack their bags the night before and ensure they attend their classes on time. Whether it is attending after school sport clubs or other clubs such as reading, science or music clubs, the time will be better spent in participation rather than watching TV or playing games for hours.
Team work - The importance of this cannot be under stated. Young people could start demonstrating this ability even at schools and it would allow them to reach agreements, share and celebrate some successes even as a team. These life skills would carry them through adulthood.
Sustainable leadership is when business leaders (e.g CEOs) manage their organisation while giving due consideration to the society, the environment and long term goals for development.
They can strike a balance between the organisational short term and long term goals in addition to generating new ideas on improving social and environmental issues. It is about leadership that would benefit the environment and the society, while making profit or maintaining the finances of the organisation.
I am going to focus on "Youths" Sustainability.
What are the simple ways organisations can build youths sustainability?
I. Communication - They can encourage the young people to talk to their friends, family, co-workers and neighbours about their concerns, what bothers them the most and how they see the future in terms of youth development. Talking always helps and is one effective way to start connecting with others in a personal way.
2. Create volunteering opportunity - This will build a network of like-minded youth with similar societal or environmental concerns. I remember my children attending the "Young Apprenticeship" programme organised by the youth leader at my local church. They had to apply and give their reasons for wanting to attend the summer programme. It was a good experience and they had the opportunity to work with like minded people, pitching and selling products at the bank they visited. They gained new skills such as communication, working effectively in groups, sales and project management.These are some life skills that would remain with them for a long time!
3. Foster inter schools / college relationships - This could be accomplished by creating interests among the youth such as sports, music, apprenticeship, debating society, politics clubs and so on and so forth. My daughter took part in the maths challenge a couple of years ago and the opportunity boosted her confidence and further interest in studying further maths in sixth form.
The older youth could also be a good role model for the younger ones by sharing some lessons and other skills they have learnt along the way. I seem to remember my child being invited to give a speech at her primary school about her journey so far in secondary school and in the sporting events she took part in, such as travelling to China to compete in the World School Athletics Competition. Her school achieved a 6th position worldwide, a result which is to be applauded! She also visited Malta and France for netball tournaments. It was lovely to see and hear the young pupils engaged with the conversation - they asked many questions!
I took the above picture when my daughter was invited back to her primary school to speak to the pupils about her experience at secondary school and in various sport tournaments both nationally and internationally.
What do you think about youth empowerment?
How have you demonstrated team work in your school / college / university/ workplace?
Share your experience.