The Anne Frank Trust launched a new set of awards, targeted specifically at young people, on 24 September 2002.
The Anne Frank Awards for Moral Courage asks kids to nominate people who they believe have shown outstanding moral courage in a number of categories:
In the UK:
- 4 Youth Awards
- 2 Educator Awards
- 1 Group Award
- 1 (Living) Celebrity Award
- 1 Community Award.
The awards are the culmination of an educational programme supported by a video and handbook, which aims to help young people identify what constitute constitutes moral courage, to teach lessons about right and wrong, to explore the value of moral courage to the individual as well as to society, to help them move from a position of being bystanders to being active in addressing and redressing injustice, largely through emulation of role models, and enable them to choose ways to act which can make a positive difference to those weaker or more unfortunate than themselves. The project is backed by the Department for Education and Skills and the Metropolitan Police.
What makes this project particularly interesting is that the awards only really work if the educational programme is successful, since all nominations come from children in a variety of age groups.:
Nominators must identify a person or group they consider to have demonstrated moral courage, justify their choice and provide a nomination in writing or as an audio visual presentation.
Nominations should demonstrate that the person nominated has certain personal characteristics:
and demonstrated adherence to the principles of:
- distinguishing right and wrong, recognising justice and fairness, and opposing that which is wrong or unfair;
- taking a stand against popular opinion or action, where these espouse values which are morally wrong;
- standing up to people in authority or with greater power, understanding the consequences of action, and acting in spite of those consequences because it is morally right or just;
- defending those unable to defend themselves;
- inspiring, leading or acting as a role model to prompt others to act for good;
The youth awards will be given to young people who have taken action in their local school or community and demonstrated that young people can achieve progress towards fairness and justice.
Educator awards are for teachers who promote an atmosphere that confronts prejudice and bigotry and welcomes and shows the value of diversity.
The group award will be given to a youth or school group which has taken an active role in confronting injustice or promoting equality.
The celebrity award is for a well-known figure who has, through their actions for justice or understanding, shown themselves to be a positive role model.
The community award will go to a person who has acted to make their own community better, combating prejudice and bigotry or redressing injustice.
The international award is for inspiring figures who have acted for good on a global scale.
There are many awards that recognise courage - what seems, to me, to make these awards different is that they go beyond acts of bravery to look at the motivation and moral foundation for these acts - in theory they are actions in which the award winner has fully considered possible consequences and repercussions to themselves and thoughtfully chosen to disregard them for the greater good.
In a society which has become increasingly individual-centred, where ruthless businesspeople, con men, and gangsters are often portrayed as heroes and where youth role models tend to be those who possess purely physical qualities (beauty, sporting prowess, 'coolness' and so on) it makes a refreshing change to see the promotion of moral behaviour.
The Judges for the 2003 awards will include: Michael Buerk, Doreen Lawrence, Sir Ben Kingsley, Lord Parekh, June Sarpong, Sir John Stevens and Janet Suzman.