Realise Your Potential
Key to changing youths’ perspectives
Part of the problem with children and our youth today is their perspective in life and their view of
themselves. Few children are raised with the belief they can achieve anything, or with aspiration to
succeed in life. Part of this stems from their home life with a lack of parental influence or positive
role model in their life but it also stems from negativity from their peers. If a child has no positive
influence in their life, they see no point in giving positive comments to others if they themselves do
not receive them. This is unfortunate as giving a positive comment or giving is much more powerful
and rewarding than receiving.
There are millions of young adults (aged 14-25) in the world and less than 30% go into employment,
20% go into further studies and 2% contribute by volunteering. However there are millions
remaining that do not expand their skills, that do not seek to share the knowledge they have and do
not see their role in today’s society.
Within the world there are adults (over 25) who are in full-time employment, volunteering or in
further education. Each of these adults is successfully contributing to their families, to their
communities and to their society. We need to capture this passion and share it amongst the youth.
If each adult ‘adopted’ a young adult to instil aspiration and to ensure each young adult understands
their role in the world and how one small act can change the world. It is not to encourage every
young adult to be a world-class brain surgeon, or make them aspire to rule their countries; the
purpose is to ensure that each young adult realises the importance of always doing their best and
that their contribution (no matter how small) makes a difference. As Martin Luther King said ‘If it
falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like
Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host
of Heaven and Earth will have to pause and say, "Here lived a great sweeper, who swept his job
The scheme requires implementation at the lowest level. It starts within classrooms and amongst
the youths’ peers.
What our peers think of us is important and their impressions, their words and their actions impact
on us for a lifetime. It is our responsibility to ensure that each individual receives a positive comment
about who they are. This will have most impact from a peer as opposed to an adult. While parental
or role-model figures can influence an individual the biggest impact comes from a peer, and it is this
that we should seek to encourage.
Each student should receive a positive comment from a peer. ‘When something is true many words
are not necessary’ and it is this we should embrace. The small positive comment will then be passed
to the individual to whom it is about. If we think negative things about someone, we are quick to
voice those issues yet positive comments remain silent. This is the change we should embrace.
Under the scheme one adult will ‘adopt’ a young adult to instil confidence, aspiration and values into
the youth. The purpose of this is to develop the youth’s individualism and captivate their
imagination in order to empower them in today’s society. Together the adult and the youth will
write a contract between them, this contract is to aid and develop the relationship between the pair.
It is designed to ensure each commit to develop the other, that time is never wasted and to ensure it
is an equal partnership. (see appendix 1)
Initially, the group will match adults to the youth members to match likes and dislikes within their
future aspirations and values. Each member will be of the same gender to ensure equality and to
prevent issues surrounding cultural inequalities. The initial meeting will be to get to know each
other, and each will be asked to complete a questionnaire to ask their aims and objectives in being
involved in such a project. They will then be introduced to three other pairs and ask to free-form
ideals of the project as a group. Following this, they will be separated into pairs and asked to design
their own contracts and charters; they will be asked to sign them and will have created their own
penalties if either party fail to adhere to the contract.
Each month the pair will submit a report or inform their group leader about the success of their
meetings, where additional support may be needed or to iron out problems that have occurred in
the previous month.
I understand the purpose and intent of participating in this scheme. As the adult
__________________________, I am fully aware of the impact I will be making and promise to
adhere to the rules set forth by the group. I will commit myself to the project and promise to meet
my youth at the arranged times and places. If I fail to honour our agreements I agree to serve one
hour community service for each broken promise.
As the youth, ____________________________ I promise to commit myself to the project and am
aware of the sacrifices my mentor has made to be here, and the time they have sacrificed to support
me. I promise to meet my mentor at the arranged times and places. If I fail to honour our
agreements I agree to serve one hour community service for each broken promise.
We both confirm that this project is based on mutual respect between both parties and we each
confirm that if the kindness shown by the other party is abused, community service will be applied
and the group will reconsider their participation in the project.
Ideas/Examples of how to Raise Potential
1. Complete the values toolkit with the individual to see how they foresee their future. (Just
2. Make a ‘dream’ list of what they wish to achieve
3. Design an image of how they want to be perceived by their peers, family and society (this
4. Get them involved in community initiatives (see One Africa One Family policy)
5. Job shadowing the career of their choice to gain on hand experience and potential
6. Volunteering at the local hospital or local orphanages – giving to others always raises one’s
7. Keep a journal of thoughts – writing is a therapeutic tool which will enable each youth to see
what their intimate and deep issues are. These can then help shape the ideas for raising
8. Giving someone responsibility makes them responsible – we learn by being the opportunity
to learn. Enable them to tutor others and make an impact on other’s lives.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list and I would encourage more and additional ideas. There is no
limit on potential!