Archives for posts with tag: young people

ImageI’ve spent the day deep in conversation with the Chief Executive of the Wilderness Foundation UK designing the course content for a leadership development programme we’re delivering later this year.

It was great to start with a blank sheet of paper – and a big pile of post it notes! – and brainstorm what we think would be the key areas for the leaders of tomorrow to focus on. As the programme is being delivered by the Wilderness Foundation, there is a heavy emphasis on nature based learning – using a variety of outdoor exercises to explore leadership skills and abilities. You might have seen in an earlier blog the fun I had hugging trees in an exercise on trust, teamwork and observation – it’s activities of that sort that we’ll be weaving into the programme.

After spending the day up to our armpits in post it notes and felt tip pens, we had an overall plan for the structure of the programme. We’d come up with some great thoughts for the detailed activities that will make up each day of the course.

Tomorrow we’ll be putting some meat on the bones of that structure, designing sessions and outlining activities. I can’t wait to use the opportunity to be creative, finding new and exciting ways to help the participants to discover the leadership potential within themselves.

Have you undertaken any leadership development training? What sorts of activities, tools, models or techniques really resonated with you? Are there any that you put into practice in your life and how effective have they been? Did any involve the great outdoors? I’d love to hear your experiences.


ImageI had the opportunity today to spend some time with a group of school children, talking to them about what they would like to see improved about a particular aspect of their school. I was initially quite nervous about the session – would they be interested in what I had to say? Would they engage with me positively? Would I be able to keep everything running to time?

When I got into the session, however, I met the most inclusive, engaging, fantastically creative group of people you could hope to work with. We started with a round robin of names and something interesting about themselves. Even that was creative – my favourite was “My name’s Barry* and I like chicken”! Well, Barry, who doesn’t?! A brilliant start.

They were all really willing to engage and participate, even the more quiet characters, and very supportive of each other’s ideas, whilst also feeling comfortable enough to challenge them appropriately where they didn’t agree.

Then they were full of great and, if I’m really honest, surprisingly sensible ideas for what they’d like to change. There were occasional digressions into the slightly less sensible, but I enjoyed allowing these for a short while just to see that creativity flow, before bringing the discussion back round to the more feasible options.

In essence, they wanted more. More choice, more space to relax in, more opportunities to do their homework (yes, really!), more fun things to do, more places to be with their friends. And don’t we all want that, really? Apart from the homework, perhaps!

They were also very insightful, bringing up observations on wasted space and missed opportunities for utilisation.

All in all, I learnt a great deal from them and thoroughly enjoyed the session. I can only hope the same is true for them, at least a little bit! I can’t wait for the next opportunity to work with young people, and know that I won’t feel anything like the trepidation I felt this time. Hurrah for feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

*Names have been changed to protect the creative!

ImageIt’s been a training-heavy week for me this week! I love learning new things so it’s great to be able to participate in so many different programmes and courses. Today was day one of a training course about mentoring young people that I’m attending in preparation for some voluntary mentoring I’ll be undertaking later this year.

It was a really enjoyable, interactive day, with plenty of activities and group work so that I got the benefit of learning from other participants’ thoughts and experiences, not just from the taught content delivered by the trainer. It was great to meet a range of different people with a variety of skills and experiences, all there because of their desire to volunteer to help support young people from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds.

The element that I benefitted from most was the time we spent putting ourselves into the shoes of the young people, trying to understand how the world appears from their point of view. It was really interesting once we started to come to some realisations about the negative behaviours that adults perceive from young people, and how they could often be a reaction to the sorts of behaviours that they perceive from adults.

I think it’s true to say that young people in general tend to get a raw deal these days in terms of their reputation – newspapers etc. seem to start from the base assumption that they’re lazy, out to cause trouble and roaming the streets in gangs like pack animals, and any young people doing some good with their lives are positioned as the exception to the rule.

That’s a really unfair picture to paint and – even worse than that – the more that this view is propagated throughout media and society, the more that young people themselves will start to believe it. Perception, as they say, is reality. Before long, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and young people will start to think: everyone has this negative view of us… we may as well live up to it! Not helpful.

So today has reinforced for me just how important it is to not judge a book by its cover or to assume that we know what makes someone tick or why they behave or respond in a certain way. Instead, we should all find time to walk a mile in their shoes: think about the external influences on them and how we would react if they were applied to us. Maybe, just maybe, that will bring us some increased understanding of that person and help us to connect with them more effectively on an individual level, rather than making assumptions based on the group they fall into.

After all, it is never a pleasant feeling when we feel that we are being judged by others based solely on generalisations about our race, gender, sexuality, age, disability or any other aspect of our own personal book’s cover. So let’s don that individual’s proverbial shoes and get marching that metaphorical mile!