Why is #iwill important to young people?
Sana: Being part of a generation that is often underestimated can be frustrating but being an #iwill ambassador means that I’m able to connect with other inspiring young leaders from across the UK and continue to create positive social change within communities. #iwill not only provide a unique platform for young people to share their stories of social action, but it also empowers young people to realise their potential, build their confidence and learn vital skills for life. I’m determined to help young people from diverse backgrounds get the opportunity to fulfil their potential and have their voices heard and prove that they can achieve amazing change. I’m so excited to see how the journey unfolds.
Thomas: The work of #iwill in embedding social action into communities and organisations is truly life changing for young people all across the UK. Playing a role in promoting the immeasurable benefits of social action as a member of the Advisory Council is a real privilege in my life. The six principles of #iwill will continue to ensure that all social action carried out by young people can indeed demonstrate the dual purpose to which we aspire. This ethos not only gives benefits to the young person who takes part by developing their abilities, character and life opportunities but also acts as an invaluable resource to a community or cause, whose social vision may be enhanced by the diverse range of skills and experiences that young people can increasingly offer. #iwill will continue to fight for every young person to be given access to social action opportunities and anybody who has experienced the work of #iwill knows why this work matters more and more every day.
What experiences have shaped your social action?
Sana: I’ve always wanted to help create better and more inclusive communities. Being part of social leadership programmes, community projects and national charities has helped me to grow as an individual and shape my social action journey. From campaigning locally to provide food for homeless people over the winter, to being the Vice-chair of Spirit of 2012’s Youth Panel on a national level, each opportunity has allowed me to realise my potential and collaborate with others. At Spirit of 2012, I’ve been able to work with a passionate team of young leaders to allocate funding to Creative Minds, an innovative project tackling the stigma around mental wellbeing in young people and helping them be the best versions of themselves. I’ve learnt that for social action to have true long-lasting impact, it starts with collaborating with a diverse range of people, sharing skills, knowledge and challenging expectations.
Thomas: Working with Spirit of 2012 is opening my eyes to the huge benefits that arts, culture and sport can bring to communities across the UK. Every single young person has something to gain by engaging with the projects that Spirit funds and the skills that they learn will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I might not be a millionaire myself, but my role in Spirit allows me to give some amazing projects the financial lifeline they need to keep on changing the lives of young people everywhere. Young people are the most diverse and varied group in our society and every single person has something different to offer, therefore nurturing potential in young people is a vital role if society is to progress.
Our message to young people:
Sana: Don’t be afraid to challenge expectations!
Young people may feel underestimated but they should know that they have the potential, imagination and the power to challenge perceptions, overcome barriers and create a world they want to live in. Whether you want to lead innovative projects to tackle climate change, to creating opportunities for young people in your local community, we all have a passion for something. Sometimes the journey and ideas will take time, but with drive, perseverance, and a supportive network, you can make the change that’s needed.
Thomas: Young people have a unique set of skills, experiences and a fresh perspective on life and the challenges our societies faces.
We can all make a huge difference by simply volunteering in our local communities – be it in a dog shelter or a charity shop, an old people’s home or on an advisory board. Young people can contribute so much to the world around them through volunteering. I also believe that political engagement amongst young people will be a driving force in the 21st century. Whether it’s through working with campaign groups, lobbying their MP, or even just by voting, young people have the potential to completely change British politics for the better. We may be the leaders of tomorrow but we also need to influence the leaders of today.
Thomas and Sana are both members of Spirit of 2012’s Youth Advisory Panel, where Sana is co-chair. Thomas also sits on the Advisory Council of the #iwill campaign, whilst Sana joined the campaign as #iwill Ambassador in #iwillWeek 2018.