An Explorative Study on the Connection between Leadership Skills, Resilience and Social Support among Youth
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A growing interest in how young people can contribute to their communities has sparked a rise in the development of youth leadership initiatives. Whether these programmes yield benefits to youth beyond leadership and into the areas of social support and resilience are core to this research. This study involved a mixed-methodology approach, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative components in order to explore the impact of a youth leadership programme. The research included a quasi-experimental design focusing on 267 young people who received the Foróige Leadership for Life programme and a comparison group of 164 respondents who did not. Questionnaires were collected at baseline, post-intervention and 6 months follow-up over an eighteen month time frame. Standardised measures of Life skills, Leadership skills, Resilience, Social Support and Empathy were utilised. Interviews were also carried out at three time points with 22 young people categorised as high and low risk in terms of well-being. In addition, focus groups were held with 23 programme facilitators. Key findings indicate that youth leadership participants demonstrated statistically significant improvements over time when compared to the comparison group in goal setting, empathy, critical thinking, communication skills, team work, problem solving, leadership skills, resilience, sibling support, total social support, emotional support, esteem support and community involvement. High risk youth also demonstrated significant improvements over time, indicating that the programme may have benefits for youth experiencing adversity. The study identified a set of factors key to developing young leaders including; resilience, self-belief, adolescent well-being, empathy, understanding oneself and social support. Qualitative evidence indicates additional improvements in social skills, sense of achievement, self-control, confidence, public speaking, assertiveness and ability to access more leadership opportunities. This study concludes there is a strong connection between youth leadership and resilience, and a more subtle connection between youth leadership and social support.