Through the work that Childline does, we are exposed daily to the trauma that adults inflict on children as well as the harm that some children inflict on their peers. Building a moral society that understands their responsibilities towards each other and respects each other’s individuality takes time and the collective input of more than a few individuals. Recognising this and wanting to assist as much as we can in alleviating the same trauma being perpetuated in future generations, we started LEADers, a junior leadership programme for young people in our five satellite areas. Seventy-five children – 15 from each of the satellite offices – are selected to take part in the programme each year.
The programme’s overarching aim is to develop young people’s leadership skills in order that they become confident, positive role models in their communities. LEADers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas with the group. Sessions are child-centred in style and aim to build self-awareness and self-esteem and so to instil in young people a healthy sense of belonging, thereby reducing the allure of gangs or negative peer groups. Developing communication skills that will help young people improve their ability to manage conflict is a key component of the programme.