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9 August, 2007

Positive role models for all, but skills are key

The Citizenship Foundation, which was today awarded the international Bertelsmann Prize for ‘engaging young people with their communities and creating young role models’, argues that programmes focussed on building skills and creating opportunities for active participation are effective in raising aspirations and achievement.

Youth Act Value Life rally 2006
Youth Act Value Life Rally
New work in this area should draw on strengths from all parts of communities, to promote a more equal and cohesive society. Volunteering, mentoring, and development of enterprise skills within a framework of effective citizenship can build role models amongst young people themselves, and generate a firmer sense of a valued place in society. These programmes should be available to all young people, and especially those in areas of income poverty.

David McLean, a volunteer with the Youth Act programme of the Citizenship Foundation said:

‘As a graduate of the constituency in question I find the perception of black youths as uninterested individuals to be false. Self reliance and economic education are key in teaching the skills they need to work their way out of poverty. Internships are crucial too, though hard to attain for youths without the right background. The rules of a profession are the tools of a trade, and from that one understands that only a respect for the law makes it possible not only for business to engage, but for free men to dwell together.’

The Giving Nation Challenge, another of the Citizenship Foundation projects for which the Bertelsmann Prize was awarded, has worked with 40 schools this year to boost learning about social enterprise through a new curriculum-based active learning resource and a grant to help schools develop a self-sustaining activity of benefit to their community. Phoenix High School in West London, for example, set up ‘Dolly Movementz’, a series of ‘open mic’ music events to provide training and entertainment for local youth.


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