Eighteen teenagers from across Wales, the rest of the UK and as far afield as Armenia and Malta are currently spending ten days at UWC Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales to develop their leadership skills.
The course brings together critical thinking skills with creative practice and physical activity, helping to build strong personal resources within the young people who are themselves already leading a wide variety of social projects in their home communities or further afield. The group’s busy timetable includes talks and discussions with a number of established leaders, including Cardiff’s Steven Doughty MP, recently appointed shadow minister for Trade and Industry and the Vale of Glamorgan’s Jane Hutt AM.
India Harding, who is due to start an Engineering degree at Durham University this October, said: “Being able to inspire others through determination and passion is one of the most important qualities when being a leader.”
James Sale, project manager for Atlantic School for Young Leaders, says: “We really feel that a creative approach to project leadership can help ensure a place for young people in decision making and social change. It is their enthusiasm, ability to act quickly and to learn from their surroundings that will make all the difference in the work that they get involved with.”
The course aims to broaden the participants’ understanding of how leadership can make change happen, giving them a broad international awareness and the critical skills to explore for themselves what makes a leader. During the ten days they will participate in a number of facilitated workshops, as well as lead their own group events including a cultural evening and skill swap sessions.
Drawing inspiration from dynamic charities and organisations such as Soul of Africa is another important aspect of the programme. Founders Joy Cummings-Jones and Stephens Knights will speak with the students and other guests about how its work has helped deliver transformational cultural change in Sierra Leone following devastating civil war in the 1990s.
Participant Rosie Aphinar explains how Ghandi has been the major inspiration for her. “He taught me that although vision is important, it’s the path you take that matters,” she said. “He proved that you don’t have to be powerful, manipulative and authoritative to get people to listen to you.”
Initially the brainchild of a group of UWC Atlantic College alumni from its early years in the 1970s, the Atlantic School for Young Leaders course is hosted by the College and includes a number of its staff on the charities board. The course content itself is developed and delivered by a team more recent graduates, themselves now working in a wide variety of fields including the media, performing arts, architecture and education in locations across the world.
A creative approach to project leadership can help ensure a place for young people in decision making and social change
Programme Co-ordinator Ellora Adam from Neath graduated from the United World College in Mahindra, India, in 2006. Since then she has worked at the United World College in Bosnia, and won a scholarship to the Bard international College in Berlin. Ellora is joined by James, an Architecture graduate normally found working on collaborative design projects across the UK, and four further facilitators, all experienced in delivering engaging and dynamic learning environments.
It is hoped that the Atlantic School for Young Leaders program will become an annual event attracting a wide range of international participants. It is guided by its connection to the UWC movement, which consists of 15 colleges around the world and a growing number of short courses, all sharing the mission of making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. In term time UWC Atlantic College is home to 350 students from over 90 different countries.