Building Resilience in Youth: The Power of Social Action

GSL Musings | 14th May 2024

GSL Team Challenge Changers

“In this journey we did not mind any obstacle or barrier we faced. Those were real experiences in our lives. We accepted all the challenges positively. When the physical gatherings were restricted due to the pandemic situation, we shifted to night camps to teach students. Though we had to face numerous challenges throughout the project, we met our target by making all the challenges as our opportunity”.

Resilience is more than just bouncing back from setbacks; it’s about thriving despite challenges. In today’s ever-changing world, cultivating resilience in young people is crucial for their social and emotional well-being. So, what exactly is resilience, and how can we help young people in our lives develop this critical skill?

Understanding Resilience

Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from adversity. It’s how we act, think, and feel when we face obstacles, big or small. While being resilient doesn’t mean avoiding stress or anxiety, it’s about learning how to effectively navigate through such experiences with strength and positivity.

Importance of Resilience

Building resilience empowers individuals to grow and learn from difficult situations. The African American educator and reformer Booker T Washington once said, “I have learned that success is not to be measured so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”. Resilience enables us to face these obstacles head-on and emerge stronger and wiser.

“I have learned that success is not to be measured so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”

African American educator and reformer Booker T Washington

Nurturing Resilience Through Social Action

At Global Social Leaders (GSL), we believe that social action is a powerful tool for building resilience in young people. Here’s how:

Foster Connections: According to Harvard Business Review resilience is not just an individual’s inner journey but is heavily enhanced by strong relationships and networks. They state that ‘People in our support systems can provide empathy or simply help us laugh and bolster our resilience by shifting perspective and reminding us we are not alone in the fight’. When young people engage in social action, they build connections with peers, mentors, and community organizations. These connections provide support, empathy, and perspective, which are crucial factors in navigating challenges. At GSL we support young people in creating these connections through virtual peer-to-peer connection events like trainings and check-ins.

Finding Purpose: Engaging in social action helps young people develop a sense of purpose. Helping young people feel that they are capable contributors and helping them feel a part of something bigger than themselves is important to developing their resilience. At GSL, we believe a crucial step to start taking social action is to identify ‘what matters most to you’. Through our trainings and feedback processes, we encourage young people to not only identify their purpose but also reflect on their purpose can bolster their actions.

Embrace Mistakes: Resilience grows from learning from mistakes and setbacks. Social action projects often expose young people to challenges and barriers. By creating a culture that celebrates progress and learning, rather than just success, we can help young people flex their resilience muscle. At GSL, we conduct check-ins to promote open conversations about failures creating a safe space for young people to learn and grow.

A Story of Resilience

At GSL we recognise teams that have shown resilience by awarding them the ‘Resilience’ award as a part of our GSL Global Goals Competition. This award is our way of reiterating the importance of resilience as a part of a young person’s social action journey and leadership development. Here’s an inspiring story of Team Challenge Changers from Lyceum International School, Kurunegala in Sri Lanka who won the ‘Resilience Award’. With an ambitious vision to ensure quality education for young people from marginalised backgrounds, they persevered through school closures during COVID-19 and power cuts to support students in a rural school with their education. Read about how they raised money to provide essential resources to the rural school and even start a night camp to teach students!

Read Team Challenge Changers inspiring story here.

Resilience is a skill that can be learned and nurtured, and social action provides an ideal platform for its development. By fostering connections, finding purpose, and embracing mistakes, we empower young people to navigate life’s challenges with strength and positivity.

Together, let’s build a resilient generation ready to tackle whatever the future holds.