UN International Youth Day provides us with a good opportunity to think about the achievements of our own young people here in the UK. They are our country’s future and will be part of the future of other international communities too.
So where are the headlines in our national newspaper today, or any other day, celebrating the fantastic contribution they make to our society? The volunteering young people do, the social action projects they start, the caring for others they do in their home?
At UFA we are lucky. Every day we see shining examples of young people who are changing their world – at home, in their schools and in their communities. And these are young people from all walks of life, some facing challenges on a daily basis which test their resilience and confidence.
Through our leadership programmes, we are proud to have supported young people to give over 250,000 hours back to their communities. More than 8000 young people have supported their peers to learn, right across the age ranges from primary schools to colleges.
And through our delivery of the National Citizens Service we have seen an additional 8500 teenagers who have set up an amazing range of community projects to really make an impact.
These projects range from writing, recording and performing a song to raise awareness of hearing loss to a current NCS project creating a memorial garden for families who have lost a baby through stillbirth or miscarriage.
So today we should be seeing headlines such as ‘Durham 16 year olds save community centre from closing’ ‘Rachael from Birmingham celebrates 5 years as a volunteer leader as chair of a youth Board (ours!) …. as a counterbalance to some of the negative ones that are sadly all too familiar.
Let’s celebrate these fabulous young people. We all know that bad news makes the front pages not good news and it’s not easy to influence what the media publish. But social media belongs to all of us – each and every one of us has the opportunity to challenge the negative perceptions of young people through the people we meet, the stories we share and what we post. In the UK now we have the future business leaders, political leaders and importantly community leaders in our schools, colleges, on apprenticeships and in our homes.
Based on the young people we see, work with and support, there are some amazing future (and current) leaders out there and in our view the future is certainly in safe hands.