PARENTS

How Can You Find Good Role Models For Your Children?

27/02/2015 15:24 | Updated 20 May 2015

Father and son straightening their ties

You turn on the television and the screen fills with the antics of reality TV programmes, and immediately your children are a captive audience. In an age when there's no shortage of negative role models, how do you find positive examples to inspire your children to make a difference in the world?

At We Day, an annual event celebrating young global citizens, 16 year-old Jenya Filchenkova found a role model who gave her the courage to take action on the issues that mattered to her.

Jenya Filchenkova

As Jenya left the SSE Arena at Wembley on 7 March 2014, the roar of We Day still echoed in her ears. Drawing 12,000 young change-makers from schools across the UK, the day-long event had been filled with inspiring speeches from world-renowned leaders and performers. But for Jenya, there was one moment that stood out above all - when Molly Burke took the stage.

Molly was a teenage girl, just like so many in the We Day audience. As she spoke about her journey, the lights went down and threw the arena into darkness.

"This is how I see the world," said Molly.

Jenya realised that Molly was blind. She listened intently as Molly spoke about how she had been bullied for her condition and struggled for years with depression. It was only when Molly accepted who she was that she found the strength to stand up to her bullies.

Jenya was moved by this story. She too had often been called "weird" for her interest in social issues, but now decided that this wasn't going to stop her. "Molly was so inspiring," says Jenya. "If she can do it, I can do it."

free the children we day

Back at school, Jenya told other students about her experience at We Day and urged them to join her in taking action. Soon, the group had produced Speak Up, a school magazine filled with stories of social action, such as charity fundraisers and random acts of kindness. With the magazine, Jenya and her team hope to give young people a voice and encourage youth leadership on social issues.

"Our generation needs to do something," says Jenya. "We're the ones who create our future."

How can you find a mentor to inspire your child? Here are some tips to get you started.

1. What are your child's interests? Sign your child up for activities run by would-be mentors who are willing to share their expertise.

2. Find tutors who are passionate about their subject and who can be great educational role models.

3. Lead by example. Let your children see you engaging in acts of kindness and explain why you enjoy helping others.

Want more tips for raising socially conscious children? Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner with 19 years of experience empowering bright young minds to take action on issues they care about. Visit www.freethechildren.co.uk to access free educational activities and action campaigns you can do at home with your child.

Every year we celebrate young service leaders at an event series called We Day, featuring inspirational speakers and performers like Prince Harry, Malala Yousafzai and Ellie Goulding. Learn more about the We Day movement at weday.com/uk and join us with your child for a livestream of We Day UK hosted on AOL on 5 March.

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