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Dr Adriana Giotta, Registered Clinical PsychologistThe vital role of competent and caring guidance and support for young people.

Part 1

Learning about the Dukes Foundation philanthropic and ambitious projects sparked much enthusiasm and excitement in me, which alongside our shared values, motivated me to join the Board of Trustees. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to support the meaningful mission and to assist in making the Dukes Foundation vision come true.

As an expert in the field of the human mind, working relentlessly in support of human empowerment and conscious living, having undertaken thorough research in multidisciplinary fields over the past three decades – especially within the psychosocial and depth psychological domains – whilst continuing to pioneer advancements therein, I am very aware of the vital role played by a fulfilled emotional need for competent and caring guidance and support for young people.

Competent and caring emotional and practical support and guidance are recognised in psychological literature as being fundamental emotional needs and a birth right of each and every child in the world (Young, Klosko & Weishaar, 2003). When these fundamental needs are met effectively by conscious healthy adults, the entire course of children’s lives can be set for success, for they are given the opportunity and assistance to achieve their fullest potential, thrive, express and share their unique talents, thereby benefitting the world at large. 

One of the aspects of a mature conscious healthy adult is to be aware of their role and responsibility towards young people. A strong, healthy role model adult strives to meet these particular needs for the young, in turn touching and transforming lives, not solely those of their own offspring. A society that values such contributions is indeed a society that can become increasingly cohesive, united and collaborative and, as a result, more adaptive and sustainable. 

A better world can only be created in the here and now, through purposeful actions, whether tiny or grand. As such, competent and caring support and guidance also translates into practical actions. The Dukes Foundation focus on offering bursaries to deserving children is a wonderful example of such practical competent and caring support. Providing financially disadvantaged children with quality education through bursaries is an invaluable contribution, not only for the lives of the children who receive the bursaries, but also those of their peers, given the relevant positive influence on human development deriving from inclusion and exposure to a diversity of cultures, worldviews and backgrounds. 

Young people spend a large proportion of their time in school, where they are socialised by peers and adults. In selective schools children have higher opportunities to receive the competent and caring support and guidance they need to nurture their talents, uniqueness and skills. When inclusion occurs in these environments, children exposed to diversity increase their knowledge and open-mindedness, learn to celebrate differences and do not seek certainty, as there is no such a thing. Instead, they learn to be fully present, alive in the here and now, tapping into their creative power and discovering new grounds. They increase their tolerance, acceptance, resilience and benefit from the exposure to alternative realities. These are some of the pivotal ingredients that support the young in their future lives, especially in our globalised, fast paced contemporary world. 

Bursaries for deserving talents contribute to the breaking of inter-generational chains of transmission of inequality, including the maladaptive cultural reproduction of classism that has contributed, amongst other things, to the reproduction of walls of disconnection, discrimination, division, antagonism, envy, hatred and even conflict.

Ever since founding Role Modelling, in 2010, and subsequently the Elephant Group in 2014, I have been an advocate and campaigner for conscious living, learning, growing and being the change one wishes to see in the world. In a nutshell: To embody healthy, adaptive role models to empower people – and future generations – and to make the world a better place. 

A key ingredient that characterises a conscious role model is responsibility: The ability to respond effectively and to expand one’s scope of action as one takes on more responsibility in life. A conscious role model holds an enhanced sense of responsibility about the unavoidable influence exerted over others, whether deliberate or subliminal, conscious or unwitting. Through our very presence, actions, inactions, words, behaviour, thoughts and feelings, we inform, affect and socialise others at all times. In other words, the very example we embody in every given moment of now results in the influence we exert over others and in the production or reproduction of the very messages and values we embody. 

What values are we embodying? What messages are we implicitly or explicitly disseminating in the world? Are we walking the talk? Is what we represent and embody what we wish to see in the world? Taking responsibility for our pervasive influencing power over others and in the wider world is absolutely paramount and underpins any hope we can hold in a sustainable future for humanity, where people can truly thrive, rather than simply survive.

Whilst certain categories of people may hold a broader scope and power of influence, being socially and/or professionally more visible than others, such as politicians, popular influencers or musicians, we are all influencers in our own right. The moment we wake up in the morning and begin any form of action and interaction, the moment we step into the world, whether to buy a coffee or to host an international panel, whether we click a “like” or share a comment or a post on social media, engage in grocery shopping or sign a new national policy bill, we are all influencing one another and are all being influenced at all times, thereby producing and reproducing culture.

Fostering reflectivity, consciousness and healthy role modelling, spreading smiles, care and hope, offering, in whichever shape or form, even minor, meaningful contributions and random acts of kindness, can make a great difference in our lives and in the lives of others as well as in the sustainability of Planet Earth. Every small or large contribution is relevant and can hold a remarkable ripple effect, even though we may be unaware of it. Our actions – or inactions – have immense consequences on the ecosystem of the entire Planet, not just those most immediate to us or directly touched. 

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