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26 October, 2009

Martin Luther King, Moses and Simon Cowell are three of our all-time greatest leaders

The Youth of Today survey, commissioned by The Prince's Trust, reveals that England footballer John Terry also made the teens' top 10, whilst X Factor judge Simon Cowell won the same vote as Mother Theresa and 16th century Monarch Henry VIII.

The survey of 1,095 13 to 19-year-olds coincides with a new Government-backed campaign to create a generation of inspirational young leaders.

England captain John Terry comments: 'I've always liked to lead by example. I take great pride and responsibility in being a leader. To organise and help others is one of my strengths. It's also great that young people see me in that way - I feel very privileged to be mentioned with some of the world's great leaders.'

Helping to launch The Youth of Today campaign, John Terry adds: 'It can be tough for young people at the moment. Projects like this that develop self-esteem and leadership ability are really important.'

Ghurka champion Joanna Lumley and business guru Sir Alan Sugar also made the teens' top 10, while Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela came in the top three with Martin Luther King. 

Joanna Lumley comments: 'I'd never thought of myself as a leader but I am thrilled and touched that young people think of me that way. It goes to show that if you're passionate enough about something you can shine a light on the subject and make things happen.'

The Youth of Today campaign will encourage hundreds of young people to become leaders, from sports coaches to public speakers, as well as inspiring many more across the country, and creating opportunities including shadowing Government Ministers.

According to the survey, 70 per cent of teenagers claim they are more likely to be inspired by someone they know than by a celebrity, challenging popular perceptions of British youth.

Two in three (67 per cent) believe there are more celebrities setting a bad example than good today. Sixty four per cent are inspired by someone in their family. 

Adam Nichols from The Youth of Today comments: 'People think that youth today only aspire to be like celebrities but they're wrong. This campaign will give young people more inspiration closer to home.'

He adds: 'Shows such as The X Factor prove that Britain really does have young talent - but we cannot rely on The X Factor alone. We need to find new ways to unearth the next generation of potential.'

Seven leading youth organisations have joined forces to launch The Youth of Today campaign, led by The Prince's Trust, including the British Youth Council, Changemakers, Citizenship Foundation, National Youth Agency, Young Foundation and the UK Youth Parliament.

The Youth of Today, funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, aims to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of opportunities for young people as leaders of change in their communities.

Joanna Lumley adds: 'There is more pressure on young people today than ever before. We need to discover and encourage young leaders who will rise up in these difficult times and show that there is no problem too big to be sorted, nothing to be afraid of, and that help is available from the most unexpected people.'

The top leaders were chosen largely because they were inspirational and had helped others, with other popular qualities including fairness and intelligence. Bill Gates also featured in the teens' top leaders.

For more information, visit www.theyouthoftoday.org.





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