Teenagers learn to become ‘leaders of tomorrow’

Maynooth hosts event international conference for 15 to 18-year-olds

Hundreds of teenagers from around the world are taking part in a week-long conference to learn how to become leaders in their communities.

Foróige, the national youth organisation, says the event in Maynooth, Co Kildare, aims to help 250 young people learn crucial life skills such as empathy, decision making, communication skills, critical thinking and team-work.

The delegates, aged 15 to 18, will graduate on Friday morning having completed various stages of the leadership programme.

Seán Campbell, Foróige chief executive, said the programme enhances the passion and idealism of young people by teaching them key skills and challenging them to use these skills practically.

“Great leadership is grounded in respect and the ability to inspire. In the week ahead, these young leaders will uncover the greatness within themselves and their own unique leadership style,” he said.

“Through challenging young people to explore their own values, and express themselves in ways they may not be used to, they develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and empathy. This skills are crucial in all walks of life.”

Developed in Ireland

The Foróige "leadership for life" programme was developed in Ireland and is open to young adults aged 15-18.

Delegates attending this week’s event have been nominated by youth workers and volunteer leaders from their own countries because they have demonstrated an “innate sense of justice, determination, passion and ability to lead and make positive changes in their own communities”.

The programme includes lectures by a host of inspirational speakers, workshops on team-building, critical thinking and discussions on matters of global importance.

Young people will also be challenged to understand their own values and prejudices.

Among the speakers due to address young people this week include Dil Wickremasinghe, a broadcaster and social entrepreneur; Sinead Kane, Ireland's first legally blind solicitor; Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, a community organisation supporting people with autism and their families; and Fine Gael MEP Maireád McGuinness, vice-president of the European Parliament.