Young Social Innovators is an initiative I am passionate about, not just because of the value of the projects transition year students work on, but also because of the opportunity provided to the students to develop themselves. Yesterday one of the projects from Davis College was in the news as it is launching a 2012 calendar to raise awareness of missing person’s. Many of us will remember the time when Trevor Deely disappeared in December 11 years ago. His father Michael Deely is supporting this campaign and appears in the clip.
Having attended the national showcase earlier this year, I was struck by the momentum behind YSI. I watched many presentations delivered by transition year students and was impressed not just by what they had achieved but by the availability of such a platform for them to develop as individuals. I believe it supports their development in three key ways:
(1) Communications and confidence building: having presented their projects at local and national level, this initiative provides a fantastic opportunity for students to gain confidence presenting in a supportive environment. The first presentation I ever gave was to a client in the corporate world and I am thrilled to see that the educational system provides more opportunities to practice now at an earlier age.
(2) Leadership and team-building: many of the questions posed by the judges at the show-case related to how the students worked as a team and how they overcame challenges. The challenges of team-working will be faced by all into the future and being able to deal with such challenges at an early age is superb.
(3) Emotional Intelligence: one definition of emotional intelligence is:
“a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.”
YSI allows the students to develop their emotional intelligence in many ways. One area of particular importance is empathy as each of the students has the opportunity to walk in the shoes of those they are supporting through their projects and feel what they are feeling. At the end of the day leadership is about relationships as we can’t lead without followers. By developing emotional intelligence, these students are better preparing themselves for future leadership roles.
On a concrete level, many past-participants of YSI have spoken of how YSI helped them secure their first job. YSI provided them a platform at interview to speak about what they were capable of beyond academic grades. I wish all the current participants the best of luck!