#iwillWeek BlogTuesday 22nd November 2016
“I am proud of the empowerment that youth work in its many forms provides and the way it lifts young people to see more of the world around them…”
Taking place this week (21st – 26th November), The Boys’ Brigade, along with many other organisations is marking the #iwill week. #iwill is a campaign to raise awareness of youth social action. Andrew Low, 23, is a member of The Boys’ Brigade Scotland Committee for the Glasgow/Dunbartonshire area and former member of 182nd Glasgow. He blogs on what youth social action really means to him and how much young people can gain from the experience.
Upon reflection, The Boys’ Brigade has probably made much more of an impact on my life than I realise. I appreciate the experiences I can tell of today – summer camps, a host of Queen’s Badge activities and volunteering in Uganda – and notice the outward skills that I have developed over the years – football, bagpipes and expedition knowledge – but it is the subtle skills that I have gained that have given me the most benefit in progressing through education and my career, forming relationships and finding and taking a wealth of opportunities that otherwise might not have occurred.
I have family and friends who have been through all four uniformed youth organisations and I see the confidence it gives them, the enhanced ability to communicate and work as a team and the values of loyalty, hard-work and selflessness that are instilled.
I am also privileged to have seen first-hand the benefit of STEM ambassadors, particularly working with young people who don’t excel at or enjoy academic subjects or come from less-privileged backgrounds that gain a new enthusiasm and appreciation for education.
A new experience for me, as a member of the BB Scotland Committee, is exposure to working in collaboration with non-uniformed youth organisations and the advocacy channels that are being created for the young people of this country. When I think about all of this, I am proud of the empowerment that youth work in its many forms provides and the way it lifts young people to see more of the world around them and make the most of the opportunities – and challenges – that come with living as a young person in the 21st century.
Recently I lead activities at a Science Festival for primary school-aged children. This was an opportunity that presented itself to me through my job with Rolls-Royce, a job which I was offered partly because I was able to tell of and demonstrate the skills and experiences I gained through the BB. At the festival my colleagues and I were able to use Hooke’s Law to explain catapults. Anyone who has studied Physics know that Hooke’s Law is boring – you stretch a spring with a force and measure its displacement, “woop woop!” But getting the pupils outdoors to fire water balloons at a target demonstrated the concept in a new way and sparked an interest in how the ideas they learn about in school apply to everyday life and inspired a sense of curiosity that they would carry into everything they do.
The Queen’s Badge Award is the highest and most prestigious award in the BB for a reason. Both as a boy, witnessing my own experiences and those of my friends, and as an officer, witnessing the current Queensmen develop and excel, I know how inspiring it can be to see the results of your efforts. I know how inspiring it can be to find skills you never knew you had and how much of a difference you can make to your own life and to the lives of those around you.
I believe these experiences capture the essence of what youth social action is about and what I am most proud of as a BB officer and as a STEM ambassador. The vast majority of my contact with youth work as a young person was through the BB, but it motivated me to continue as an officer and get involved in other avenues that can empower change in the lives of young people who can gain so much from it. As I began this blog, it is only upon reflection that I realise, beyond my CV, how significant a part of the person I am today is owed to the BB and youth work in general. I’d encourage you to reflect on what it has done for you, what you have seen it do for others and remind you of our aim to encourage young people to push boundaries and excel beyond what they think their capability is limited to.