New Irish study confirms benefits for young people from Youth Leadership programmes

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Foróige-Notinuse June 13, 2013

Wednesday 12th June 2013

Benefits also identified for young people deemed to be “at risk”

Key characteristics in shaping young leaders include resilience and social supports

A new study of participants in one of Ireland’s largest Youth Leadership Programmes has identified particular benefits from participation in such programmes for young people. The study indicated that significant improvements, both personally and in a person’s ability to contribute to their communities, were evident. The study also identified benefits from participation in such programmes for young people deemed “at risk” indicating that being taught leadership skills can have tangible benefits for young Irish people experiencing adversity.

The study was conducted over an 18 month period amongst 400 young people who participated in the Foróige Leadership for Life Progamme. The programme enables young people to develop the skills to be effective leaders. The publication of the findings of the research coincides with the formal accreditation of a quality assurance and best practice recognition of the ‘Foróige Leadership for Life Programme’ from the NUI Galway, namely the Foundation Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action in partnership with UNESCO. The study found that teenagers who actively engage in leadership training manifested key skills including social skills, self-control, confidence, assertiveness and a sense of achievement.

In addition, the study identified the following characteristics as key in terms of shaping young leaders; resilience, self-belief, well-being, empathy, self-understanding and social supports.

Speaking at the launch of the findings in Dublin today, Professor Mark Brennan from Penn State University, USA (who independently adjudicated on the findings of the research in partnership with Professor Pat Dolan from NUI Galway) said - “Youth organisations, schools, community groups and governments need to play their part in recognising young people as valuable assets and leaders. Aspirational or token recognition and engagement means we are failing our young people.”

Seán Campbell, Chief Executive of Foróige said, “This is a very important study. It is also a tremendous endorsement of Foróige’s work from two eminent professors in the field of youth leadership and development. We look forward to continuing to work with young people in a meaningful way to foster their leadership potential. We will also continue to share our results driven, best practice experience in the area of leadership both nationally and internationally. “

The survey made the following recommendations:
• the inclusion of youth leadership development parallel to the school curriculum to foster skill sets for employment,
• inclusivity for all young people to participate in youth leadership programmes – taught leadership is not just for the elite but for the general population including young people deemed “at risk”,
• policy makers need to recognise that social support is critical to the development of effective leaders so a wide range of social supports should be accessed in leadership development including parents, friends, siblings and communities.
• an increase in female representation in leadership roles throughout society, including business, politics and public service.
• mentoring programmes would compliment and strengthen existing leadership programmes.

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Issued by:
Maria Whitmore, Gordon MRM, Ph: 087 2377105

Editor’s Note: The Foróige Youth Leadership Programme is run through youth clubs, projects and schools. To date over 1,600 young people have participated in the programme. Study Methodology - The study, conducted by Dr. Sue Redmond at NUI Galway, involved a mixed-methodology approach, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative research. The qualitative research involved interviews at three time points among young people considered at high and low ‘risk’ of well-being, as well as focus groups with ‘Leadership for Life’ programme facilitators.