In Disney’s The Lion King, we watch Simba conquer daunting obstacles in his quest to restore peace in his community and perpetuate the ‘Circle of Life’.

Though he runs into trouble, our lionhearted protagonist is inspired by those before him to fight for the greater good. Much like Simba, we’ve seen young people across the nation committed to the betterment of their world, inspired by the past to build a flourishing future.

Young Citizens has partnered with Disney Theatrical Productions to celebrate young people as they partake in valuable volunteer work. We’re thrilled to present the Circle of Life Award, an achievement offered to students who engage with their community and lend a hand wherever it may be beneficial. We wanted to shine a light on those making a positive impact outside of the classroom, and empower the youth to make a difference.

After six sessions – three teacher-led and three student-led – students will have the tools and information necessary to lead a social action project to benefit their local community. These projects promote important skills, namely planning, researching, teamwork, consultation, project management, leadership, time management, collaboration and evaluation.

To introduce this new programme, a pilot was launched in London and students were given the chance to fulfil social action projects. Already, we’ve seen some incredible work done by schools across England! The BRIT School, one of the few schools who partook in the pilot programme, focused on engaging with those who were living with dementia. After researching the impact of this disease, students visited those who were affected, delivering performance arts workshops.

After six weeks, students prepared a piece of theatre in response to their experience and research.

“[Enthusiasm] was evident in their final performances. The pieces produced were full of compassion, care and integrity for the subject. Every student was engaged with the project from start to finish and was able to use their experience to impact their final devised piece… each week the clients would be excited that the BRIT students were coming to visit.”

Another institution that participated in the Circle of Life was the Auriol Junior School. After a few brainstorming sessions, students decided they wanted to help sick children in their community. Peers took a risk and invested in a stall at a local fair so that they could raise funds for a local hospital. Now, after raising over £200, the children plan to buy resources for the hospital and visit the children whom they’ve worked to support.

“Many of the children have been very enthusiastic but one year 6 boy and one year 3 girl come to mind. They have both expressed such interest over the year, getting their families involved as they felt so passionate about the project and going the extra mile on the day of the stall. I saw them show a confidence in themselves I didn’t know they had and it was just wonderful to see.”

Projects like these hearten us immensely, serving as stark reminders that young people are entirely capable of inspiring change in the world. As we continue working with more schools to empower the youth, we hope to see young community leaders taking charge more frequently across the country.

We’ve awarded quite a few schools who’ve done outstanding work in their communities. So far students have promoted sustainability, spent quality time with senior citizens, designed a peer mentoring programme, advocated for mental health awareness and demonstrated exemplary team work, all while building foundations of leadership that will last a lifetime. As the year progresses, we hope to continue empowering the youth to give back through the Circle of Life Award.

To get involved and get your free resources and activity sheets click here: https://www.youngcitizens.org/circle-of-life-award

We look forward to hearing more inspiring stories from across our schools network.

Will

Read what publications had to say about schools participating in the Circle of Life Project:

Greenwich Mercury

SEnine Magazine