Inspirational leaders really stand out in challenging times. And looking at who young people listen to whether that is for inspiration, reassurance, entertainment or to fit into a particular group, is important for those of us who work with and amongst them.
Listening to people can often seem like it has been reduced to capturing sound bites and receiving the most likes. In the Young Leaders Award, we encourage students to research more deeply, examine and critique someone’s character traits and then look at their influence.
At KS3 one of the inspirational leaders we find out about is Maro Itoje, the English professional rugby union player. He has played for England and is currently signed to Saracens. He has worked hard both on and off the field gaining a degree in politics at the same time as starting his rugby career. If we’re looking for character traits, then we could discern that he has both determination and dedication as he could so easily have been side tracked by his sport as his senior debut for Saracens came when he was 19. If you research more about Itoje’s studies then you will discover that he has a strong interest in international development, gender equality and human rights. He is inspired by his Nigerian heritage and is a trustee for the Atlas Foundation and their work with children across Africa. This sportsman is not only passionate about rugby union but also helping others.
Marcus Rashford, forward for Manchester United in the Premier League, has zoomed into the limelight recently, not for his sport, but rather for his compassion for families in poverty and, some might say, also his political views as he has challenged Government policies on free school meals. Rashford recognises that his profile as a Premiership Player gives him ‘a voice and a platform’. At the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust, we encourage children and young people to find their voice and research campaigns that they can become allied to or be an advocate for.
Kadeena Cox is a Paralympic gold medal champion in both athletics and cycling. Kadeena started her athletics career in her teens but in 2014, at the age of 23, she suffered a stroke. She recovered to full strength but later that year she was admitted to hospital with similar symptoms and was subsequently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It would have appeared that a sporting career might be over, but she went on to compete at Rio Paralympics in 2016. She is quite open about her struggles with her health and the setbacks she has faced, and she attributes much of her courage to keep trying to her faith in God. She draws on very personal values when she finds things hard and she also uses them as an encouragement to others. She appears very conscious of the influence she can have and purposely speaks with positivity and likes to highlight the achievements of others.
Exploring deeper, and not looking at face value, are important skills to develop and the Young Leaders Award helps students to examine other leaders in society and history. But more importantly it helps them to discern their own character and to have the opportunity to demonstrate their own leadership qualities both individually and as a team. If you would like to find out more about our character curriculum at KS1/KS2/KS3 or KS4 then go to our website. You can download curriculum links and sample lessons or sign up.
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