Thursday, 7 June 2012

Youth and Philanthropy Initiative

I’ve been meaning to blog about the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative for ages. It’s a wonderful citizenship scheme operating through schools that gets young people actively engaged with their local communities and with charities.

Students research social needs in their area, working in small teams. Each team identifies a locally based charity that tackles the issue they care about most. They visit it, then prepare a presentation highlighting why they believe it is worthy of support. The team judged to have made the best presentation at a final event in the school is given a cheque of £3000 to award to their charity. The photo is of this year’s winning team at Nightingale Academy with their citizenship teacher.

I have been a YPI judge for several years, and I love it. Watching the presentations is inspiring. Many teams are brilliantly creative. I have seen moving drama, heard amazing poems and music, admired striking use of ICT, and even of clothing. The commitment the students display for the causes they espouse is fantastic. Some teams in the final I was on the judging panel for last week had visited their chosen charities ten times. I often hear about students continuing their involvement in their charities for months or years after the event.

YPI fosters so many skills and aptitudes. Teachers frequently express astonishment about students’ boost in confidence. Quite often the winning team consists of students who have never before excelled in school. Passion is far more important than academic credentials.

It’s great to play a small part in such a valuable scheme.