Scouting in Scotland allows young people to change lives

I found it extremely disheartening to read that recent studies have shown that one in five young Scots feel powerless to change their lives.

Cub Scouts Picture Michael Gillen

Young people must be allowed to fulfil their full potential and change not only their own lives, but the world. I know that at Scouts Scotland we are working hard to empower, inspire and support our young people week in week out throughout Scouting.

Which is partly why in February Scouts Scotland is celebrating #YouShape Month, where we shine a light on young people shaping Scouting in partnership with adults. We’re all about young people, and we want to ensure that they are involved in every aspect of Scouting, so that together we can create the modern Scouting movement that they want. This isn’t something we only do February, it is a core part of our values.

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This month we will also be launching our “Youth Approved” award scheme, which has been developed by young people in Scotland to award and recognise the commitment to delivering youth led Scouting.

Youth Shaped Scouting is about young people shaping their own adventure, taking on responsibility, developing skills, making decisions and influencing their own Scout Programme. This in turn helps young people to develop confidence, resilience and the skills they require in the world outside of Scouting.

Youth Shaped Scouting happens in many different ways. My Son Robert, who’s eight, was recently working towards his top award in Beavers, the Bronze Chief Scout Award. In order to achieve this he had to lead an expedition group around a local museum. As a parent it was incredible to see how excited he was to be placed in charge of this expedition, but also to see how much he grew through the experience.

It’s a daunting task for anyone to be put in charge of a group of your peers, but I know that it helped him to not only gain confidence but also to see that he was valued and trusted by his adult Leaders.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) article 12 sets out that that children and young people have the human right to have opinions and for these opinions to matter. This is fundamentally what we believe in and why it is so important to ensure that Scouting is Youth Shaped.

We want our young people to know that their opinions matter and we want them to feel empowered that they can change the world. It’s not just about letting young people choose an activity on a Friday night at Scouts, it’s about listening to and valuing their opinion throughout their whole Scouting journey.

We currently have three members of our Scottish Board who are under 25 and have two Youth Commissioners in Scotland ensuring that young people are involved in shaping and improving our strategy.

I’m really excited that we are celebrating #YouShape Month this February but I’m also excited to see more Youth Shaped Scouting right across Scotland.

Find out more on our website

Kate Docherty is Chief Executive, Scouts Scotland.