“The secret to youth engagement and leadership is to start small and think big,” says Heather Fitzke, a 26-year-old, British Red Cross volunteer. Heather responded to our recent call for ideas about how the Red Cross Red Crescent can effectively reflect and represent the aspirations of young people within the Movement. To coincide with World Red Cross Red Crescent Day and our 8th May RedTalk, we asked visitors to Our World Your Move to tell us about their experiences of youth leadership.
Responses came in from all over the world. Heather suggested that National Societies in particular could help to foster the next generation of Movement leaders. “Increasing opportunities for young volunteers to take on more, allows them to blossom into articulate, committed, capable volunteers,” she said. But to do so needs effective investment. “Youth leaders don’t just appear like magic.”
John Lawlor, from the World Organization of the Scout Movement, said that leaders need to understand how to use their influence effectively and with care, and that developing leaders was a responsibility for both governments – through education policy - and civil society. “Non-formal educational movements such as Scouting and the Red Cross must continuously develop their programmes aimed at developing leadership skills in young people, and inspiring them to lead their peers in taking action for the benefit of their local, national and international communities,” he said.
Syed Mahmood Kazmi is from Pakistan and volunteers for the Pakistan Red Crescent Society. He said that a key to personal growth was an enquiring mind. “Teachers should encourage students to ask questions, but they should also ask students analytical and opinion-based questions themselves.” In this way, real conversation can occur and opinions can develop and change in the open.
These are just some of the responses we had to our call for action (you can see more on our blog), and we’d like to know more. On 8th May we’ll have a live webcast from Geneva where we can reflect together on what has already been shared, try to understand the needs of both institutions and individuals when it comes to youth leadership, and find ways to put this understanding into action.
You can find the webcast and contribute your thoughts or questions on our Live blog or by sending us a tweet (@RCRCLearning). Or send us a link to your blog and maybe we can bring the conversation to you.