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How can I influence my people?

Social and Emotional Learning

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These SEL activities help the learners identify key strengths and weaknesses in affecting change. Learners have an opportunity to identify those ChangeMakers they know and what characteristics they have that make them effective. The learners are then encouraged to apply this to themselves and look for ways to improve.

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.

  • Who do you look up to/see as a role model?
    • Why do you look up to them?
  • What are the characteristics of someone who can influence others?
  • What examples can you think of where an individual successfully campaigned for a change (in law or behaviour)?
  • What resources/support does someone need to influence others?

Warm Up Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

My ChangeMakers

ChangeMakers can be defined as those individuals who are highly effective in tackling social, economic and environmental challenges facing society, and who are driving and achieving positive change within their own fields of interest and work. Many of these individuals occupy professional positions within public, private and third sector organisations, while others take up more informal roles as active community members who are well-known among their peers and neighbours. In practice, this could mean a particular police officer being instrumental in tackling anti-social behaviour, an active local resident bringing estranged communities together, or a leading light in the business sector driving private investment into a local area.

Young people all have adults they aspire to be like - sportspeople, musicians, politicians, community leaders, influencers; the list is wide and varied. But what is it about these people that make them so significant in the lives of young people? What are their characteristics that make them successful? This is the focus of this activity - trying to identify what makes people successful and what can be learnt from them in order to improve young people’s own chances of campaigning success.

Compile a list with the learners of the people that influence them. There are a number of ways to achieve this - asking them to enter names into a box, collecting them on a board in a group session, asking groups to identify five common influencers, or another method that works for you and your group. The point is to identify any person that exerts an influence on the learners. Encourage them to consider “non-celebrity” influencers too, not parents, but maybe sports coaches or other adults they come into contact with.

Add your own list of ChangeMakers too - for example Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Lady Gaga, Malala Yousafzai, Charlie Dark, Franchesca Leigh AKA Chescaleigh or someone encouraging change in your own area. The ChangeMakers podcast website has a range of stories which may also inspire the group.

Once you have identified a set of known ChangeMakers, split the group into small groups and invite the learners to draw up any common characteristics these people may have. Give them some time and support to identify these characteristics.

Ask questions such as:

  • How approachable is the person?
  • How much do they care about the cause they are campaigning for?
  • What personal risks do they take?
  • How connected are they?
  • Are they good at public speaking?

Once the learners have had some time to consider their characteristics, draw the group back together and collect their responses together on board. Guide the learners towards this set of characteristics:

  • Knowledgeable
  • Well-connected
  • Generous and open
  • Reliable and trustworthy
  • Impactful and tenacious
  • Communicator
  • Visionary and innovative
  • Facilitator.

Select a chosen ChangeMaker and, with the group, map them against the characteristics of changemakers.

Repeat with two or three more and then ask:

  • Do all changemakers have all characteristics?
  • Are there any characteristics that all changemakers have?
  • Are there some characteristics that are rarer?
  • If you were recruiting a changemaker to a campaign against online hate speech, who would you choose and why?

Main Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

Identifying my skills

This activity draws on the warm-up activity and invites the learners to personally reflect on their personal strength and development areas.

Using the list of characteristics from the warm-up activity and the “Identifying my skills” worksheet, invite the learners to complete a personal SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the skills to be a changemaker.

Then ask the learners to select a skill they feel they would like to develop and record this on the sheet.

Then again using the sheet, record their fears about tackling the skill and the reasons why they feel they should tackle the skill. Throughout all of this, encourage the learners to talk to one another about their selected skill and the challenges they may need to overcome.

Finally invite the learners to record how they are going to go about developing this aspect of being a changemaker. Do they need any support from anyone else?

If you can plan this into your usual structures, it would be worthwhile revisiting this development plan on more than one occasion to explore how the learners are developing, whether they need any further support, and what the next area is they’d like to develop.

Discuss the fears learners identified, and ask whether feeling fear is negative. Share examples of when they may have previously felt fear and then overcome it to tackle a challenge successfully. It is also useful for learners to share the strategies they used to help overcome those fears, as this may inform other learners of viable strategies that may help them in the future.


Challenge the group to take ownership of their own personal development and use the development plan as a way to improve their skills. Explain that the SWOT process can be used in a wide variety of situations to help identify the challenges and routes through them. If time allows, you may wish to encourage the learners to undertake a wider SWOT analysis and build a personal development plan for other areas of their lives that they want to improve. Key areas employers currently report a need for improving are communication skills, personal responsibility, proficient writing skills and problem solving among others.

Outcome Criteria

  • Articulate the reasons why an individual may be successful.
  • Identify and overcome barriers to achieving personal growth.


Articulate the reasons why an individual may be successful. Identify and overcome barriers to achieving personal growth.


Identifying my skills

Identifying and overcoming barriers to achieving personal growth.