The old adage "united we stand, divided we fall" proves to be appropriate in the context of youth empowerment. When students are isolated, working in competition or disconnected from their peers, an ethos of "survival of the fittest" often reigns. This kind of setting is likely to elicit behaviour such as aggression, unhealthy social relationships and bullying for some, leading to exclusion, loneliness and despair for others. Staff dynamics can take a similar turn, with equivalent consequences among adults and a negative influence on students.
It seems that individual empowerment truly is inseparable from collective empowerment, particularly when our ultimate goal is character development. Creating conditions that help facilitate individual and collective empowerment means building connections wherever possible: among students, between students and adults, and of course, among adults.