The Young Leaders Award: Supporting Re-engagement With Community

July 8, 2021
The Young Leaders Award: Supporting Re-engagement With Community

The YLA supports the re-engagement of your school’s wider community post-pandemic, whilst developing pupils’ social skills, confidence and wellbeing. The Award at each Key Stage enhances your pupils’ voices, whilst developing their leaderships skills. Help your pupils find their voice about issues that truly matter to them.

Looking to re-connect your school with your local community? The YLA offers a fully resourced leadership and character education programme which empowers pupils to look for the need in their community and create meaningful solutions.

The Pandemic for Schools

The pandemic has brought many challenges including an increase in loneliness, suffering and isolation. Through the Young Leaders Award, we are helping to develop children and young people’s confidence, courage, and resilience, enabling them to develop key character virtues that will help them to play their role in rebuilding our communities for the better.

Many studies show that children and young people have been amongst those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and that increasing problems with mental health and wellbeing, already highlighted as a concern pre-pandemic, have only been exacerbated since the first lockdown in March 2020.

The annual Good Childhood Report from the Children’s Society (2020) shows there has been a significant decrease in the happiness of children aged 10-15 since 2009 and children in the UK ranked the lowest for having a sense of purpose in life when compared with children in 24 other European countries.

The Youth Index from The Princes Trust (2021) paints an equally concerning picture. They found that one in four 16 to 25-year-olds felt “unable to cope with life” and this increased to 40% among those not in education or employment.

The Youth Index also reports that over a third of young people felt powerless to change their own future and nearly one in three felt their opinions on issues didn’t matter. Half of the young people surveyed felt their mental health had worsened since the start of the pandemic with 56% “always” or “often” feeling anxious. This finding is backed up by a study from Lowell which also revealed that that 31% of children in the UK are currently suffering with anxiety, stating that they are constantly worried.

Kindness, Perseverance and Teamwork

The Young Leaders Award helps young people to develop the character virtues and leadership skills they need to “cope with life” and develop a sense of purpose, both during the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic, and once we emerge from it into a post-Covid world.

The Award allows character virtues such as kindness, perseverance and teamwork to be taught explicitly and implicitly through the curriculum and through experiential learning as pupils engage in social action projects to bring about positive change in the communities they belong to. Structured opportunities for pupils to work with people they wouldn’t normally come into contact with, and the opportunity to be of service to others, develops their confidence, resilience and community-mindedness. By empowering them to speak out about the issues of concern to them, and to know how they can take action, we let young people know their opinion matters.

Research has shown that young people who engage in social action have higher levels of wellbeing, feel less anxious and feel more connected to their school or college. They also tend to have stronger personal networks. A study by the University of Gloucestershire into the impact of the Young Leaders Award found pupils developed their teamwork skills and resilience, growing in confidence and self-esteem. Their emotional awareness was also enhanced and there was a positive impact on pupil engagement. 60% of the young people questioned said they wanted to continue volunteering when they finished the Young Leaders Award.

Youth-led social action not only benefits the young people taking part, but also society, creating a double benefit. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Young Leaders Award offers children and young people a unique opportunity to help re-build their communities, find a meaningful purpose and be a part of the solutions needed to address the issues we all face in a post-Covid world.

To find out more about the Young Leaders Award, or to see how you can embed the programme within your school setting, contact us here.

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