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How do we harness the unique contribution of young people to solve social problems?
  • COVID-19
  • Student Engagement

This blog is from one of COBIS' Supporting Associates.

Written by Jonathan Harper FRSA, Chief Executive Officer, Future Foundations

We need to re-connect and ignite our global citizens of the world

At a time when the world is facing unprecedented challenges from conflict, climate change and Covid-19 – all of which have an impact on the education and future aspirations for young people - we need to explore how we support, harness and empower young people to solve real world problems. 

The negative impact of Covid-19 on young people has been significant. This includes adapting to isolation, schools closing, and exams being cancelled. Young people have experienced heightened anxiety and uncertainty and increased risks to mental and emotional wellbeing. Compounding this, they have been unable to volunteer for community initiatives.

A WHO-UNICEF-Lancet commission makes it clear that all stakeholders, from governments to parents, must "ensure the physical and mental impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic on adolescents are kept minimal. Immediate actions are warranted."

There is an increasing body of evidence led by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue, which asserts that:

–      ‘…through a dedication to social action the character of young people and the communities they live in can be transformed.’

–      ‘By embedding social action schools can move away from exam results as the sole indicators of success for their schools and students.’ 

To mitigate the risks of disempowerment and disconnection, UK youth organisation Future Foundations piloted in 2020 a high-impact summer programme accessible from home, with young people supported to design social action projects which enrich their lives and those of their family and communities. DEMOS states "if properly harnessed, the unique contribution of young people taking part in social action could help to tackle some of our most pressing social problems".

Our young people raised £16,000 for local charities and supported 187 community organisations. The participants reported they felt more connected, confident, and improved their wellbeing.

Following this success, we delivered a similar weekend programme only for COBIS member schools in November 2021 (and will do so again in November 2022). 

Watch this webinar recording, to find out the impact the programme had on COBIS students Click here to watch a campaign video, created by Lukas, a student attending Park Lane International School, Prague, a COBIS school

This summer, we are hosting another weekend programme for young people and we invite COBIS schools to share this opportunity with their students (aged 11 to 17). The Future Foundations GSL World Catalyst, from 27-29 July 2022 will be delivered LIVE from London (this is open to COBIS and non-COBIS schools globally). 

To support schools to equip the leaders of tomorrow, we also run an annual, free to enter, Global Goals competition. This kicks off in September and we would like to invite all COBIS schools to take part. You can find out more here.

Find out more