Youth social action is something we see more of today than ever before, it is hugely valuable for not only young people themselves to be able to develop their skills and influence change within their communities but also for the organisations who integrate it within their work. 

I have been lucky enough during my time as a sports leader growing up as a teenager and young adult to have been given opportunities to share my views and ideas to benefit others in a positive way. By being given responsibility to plan, lead and deliver activities I learnt early on about how important responsibility, organisation and communication were. 

This continued when I was selected to be part of Sportscotland’s National Young People’s Sport Panel where I saw on a bigger scale how important it was to the organisation that mine, the rest of the team and other young people’s voices were heard. I had the opportunity to learn and develop skills around public speaking, about engaging different audiences and also about how to make my ideas actually come to life so not just talking about change but really being involved in that action. 

From there I was then lucky enough to be selected for Spirit of 2012’s Youth Advisory Panel where I learnt even more about influencing change on a bigger scale. Being responsible for making decisions around our own fund and as a team being responsible for a pot of money was a new experience and to know that Spirit had the trust in us to deliver on the project was an empowering feeling. Working on the process from ideas stage right through to awarding the successful applicant and everything in between taught me a lot about how these kind of things work and it was an opportunity that allowed me to develop so much more both professionally and personally as an individual. 

I am now lucky enough to be a Director on Spirit of 2012’s Board which I would never have applied for (and definitely wouldn’t have been successful in securing!) had it not been for the confidence and skills I gained through being part of the YAP! 

Creating opportunities for youth leadership or social action within your organisation is honestly one of the best things you will do! But it does need time allocated to it, it can’t just be a token gesture, to say that as an organisation you have a youth leadership programme or listen to the views of young people.  

You need to be motivated to have these programmes because you want to initiate change, to help young people grow as individuals and want to really listen to what they have to say. And when they give their ideas and opinions you need to enable and empower them to take action. Help them bring their ideas to life, to show their passion and enthusiasm and help get their voices out there to different networks. As that is where the real power lies and where the real difference and change can be made, and that is an incredibly special thing to play a part in.