SEWF 2018: Scotland’s young people make a lasting impact

Opening the Social Enterprise World Forum, St Alberts Primary, Glasgow and Broughton High School, Edinburgh showed exactly why Scotland should be proud of its young people.

Leading fully-operational social enterprises, these pupils spoke with pride and passion about the impact they are having in their communities and the skills they are developing for themselves.

Coming together for social change

We are incredibly privileged to hear stories like these every day. From small, single-class schools in Plockton, to huge, inner city secondary schools in Glasgow. The social enterprises that we support through the Social Enterprise in Education programme trade, are led by young people and have an incredibly positive impact in their communities and beyond.

These young people speak confidently about social enterprise, the importance of their chosen social issue, and how proud they feel working towards positive change with their friends. They feel a sense of ownership - trusted to make important decisions about their social enterprises. They inspire everyone who listens to them speak about their successes, challenges and the confidence they have gained along the way.

We firmly believe that all young people are driven to create a better world - we just need to enable them to do so. Young people care about equality, resources and the environment - the underlying principles of social enterprise.

Speaking from the heart

The brief for the opening ceremony at the Social Enterprise World Forum was:

‘Talk about the social issue you have chosen to address, your social enterprise, the impact it’s made on you and your community’.

We gave pupils no guidelines, no ‘buzz’ words and no script.

When St Albert’s Primary and Broughton High School took to the stage in front of 1,400 people, our team knew they would speak with passion, knowledge and determination.

The intakes of breath from the audience when pupils mentioned conscious-led communities, the nods of agreement and tears in eyes as presentations continued, the eruption of applause at the end. The world was now privy to what we’ve been fortunate enough to see for many years now - that Scotland’s young people are innovative, socially-conscious and ready to create the world they want to live in.

A number of delegates approached Academy staff, saying the school presentations had been their most inspiring moment at SEWF 2018. Given the quality of all the speakers and seminars, this was a huge commendation for the pupils.

There was a resounding sense that people wanted their children, their neighbours and their local schools to take part in this programme. To give all young people the chance to develop the skills, confidence and transformative learning highlighted by the pupils we work with whenever they share their stories.

So what next?

Our aim is to give every school in Scotland the chance to take part in our programme over the next ten years. We are also working towards making the offer available to schools around the world as we grow our network of international hubs.

As people came to speak to us at the Forum, describing the impact of hearing the young people and their stories, we asked them to support our aim and help us make it a reality. We would like to ask you to do the same. Put us in touch with your local school, tell a teacher about our free Professional Learning sessions and help us spread the word.

Let’s do our bit to enable the next generation to connect with their world and tackle issues in their local and global communities.

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