Phase 1 Monday Morning seems like a life time ago with the amount of leaping, jumping, swinging, sunshine and laughs we had. I think everyone including myself was nervous about how the week would pan out and praying for sunshine. Well we have been blessed with some incredible moments of courage, inspiration and laughter.

As the coaches left and we made our 4 hour trip up to Kingswood in Hexham the only thing we left behind were a member our dignities, so no major issues.

The Monday was very quiet but bubbling with anticipation as the young people found their feet. We partook in various activities, designed to increase team work and break the ice.

We all woke up on Tuesday with some people excited/nervous about what the day would entail. Team 6 started the morning with Abseiling which most of the participants were quite apprehensive about. Joshua who was and still is very scared of heights, was very adamant that he was not going to go up. Shannon who was also very scared, agreed to go up if Joshua did it with her. They both took up the challenge and together they abseiled down with smiles on their faces.

Team 4 commented that their teamwork and communication had improved massively over the first week. They had their tough moments and disagreements but in the end they had all gelled together and made some ‘sound new mates’.

The first full day was tiring but it was an amazing start to our NCS journey.

Wednesday started with another beautiful day, despite some tired faces coming out from their hiding places. Some of the young people started to find their feet and confidence was building throughout the teams. Tina who was scared of heights and new experiences was one of these young people. She felt confident enough by Wednesday to take part in the zip wire and climbing activities with the support from her team. I know Mary (Team Leader), Jason (Team mentor) and team 8 were hugely proud of her.

Wednesday’s reflection was on attitude, skills and resources where one of the teams spoke about determination, perseverance and the importance of challenging yourself. This was due to the team being shown a primitive technique of fire lighting using a bow drill, which the instructor thought no one would manage. It was amazing to see Alex and Daniel working together and persevering throughout the session to successfully start a fire.

Thursday started with a bang having a team vs team game of “the human knot”.  All the teams were now moving further and further out of their comfort zones, with the challenging activities they were facing. The support and enthusiasm was incredible thoughout the day, and we finished Thursday off with a huge game of rounders.

Friday was our last day at the Kingswood centre. The young people were definitely ready for some home comforts. This week was a massive success down to the young people’s enthusiasm and positivity mixed with the energy and support of the staff. The team leaders and team mentors have told me that their teams have bonded so well and supported each other and became closer because of it.

I think the week can be summed up by one of the young people telling me that they have really come out of their shell and made some friends that they would have never made without the NCS.

So the second week seemed to fly by, which is always a good thing. I think during this week all the teams bonded together and that they were all ready to run some amazing social action projects over the next 2 weeks (which they did!).

On Monday the teams dove straight in looking at the current scenario, understanding global and local issues and who is responsible. This lead on to the preferred scenario to get them inspired for their social action projects.

We finished the day off with a huge game of lava challenge which was great seeing them all working in their teams and laughing in the sunshine. I am sure you wouldn’t believe me if I said that we had over 100 16year olds outside enjoying themselves with no TV or Phones after 8pm. But we did!

Before the young people could decide on how to help others, we feel they need to learn more about themselves. On Tuesday we covered self-awareness, Self-direction and they also created a personal crest. Once they had delved in to learning and appreciating themselves more we did a team murder mystery game where everyone did a great job at playing detective.

Afterwards we ran a film night in the Theatre and some sports on the field, for a nice close to the day.

I think Wednesday was a hugely important day for the teams. They started by looking at some case studies from last year, before coming up with their own ideas for social action projects. At this stage they usually throw ideas around not really knowing what they would like to do.  However as I went around it was as though something had clicked. All the teams had decided what they wanted to do, and already started making plans on how they were going to run their social action projects.

Lauren was saying how passionate and enthusiastic her team were when they discussed their ideas for their project.

In the evening we had a big debate with some of the topics being “should uniform be compulsory in school”, “Should NCS be compulsory to every 16 year old” (the general consensus was yes, obviously!).  Also I was really impressed with the articulation of the young people as they put across their opinions.

Well Thursday was all about our lip sync/talent show. We decided to make each team come up with a dance for the show which they spent some considerable time practicing and become surprisingly competitive.

The show was a highlight not only of the week but the year for most of them. It was incredible to see Lucas, Rebecca and Caitlin perform solo acts and their confidence and self-esteem must be sky high now. I have not seen so many people laugh so hard in a long time, we had standing ovations, tears of joy and some jaws drop as a mixture of sheer comedy and talent came to the stage.

It was the perfect ending to an amazing week at Abbottsholme School, where we have learnt about ourselves, explored new ideas and come up with some incredible social action projects, that are definitely going to make an impact to many people in Chesterfield.

Our bags were packed and as we left I was wondering if McDonald’s knew what was about to hit them when we arrived back in Chesterfield.

Phase 3 is when the young people start to plan and then carry out their social action projects. We started with young enterprise coming in to get the young people thinking about their own futures. We also went out to do Chesterfield challenge which gets the young people out into the local community doing some challenges such as flash mob, a radio shout out and a photo with George Stevenson.

The teams started to consolidate their social action plans by going in to Chesterfield on Tuesday and doing some research. This gave them a great foundation for their ideas and to make sure there was a need for what they wanted to do.

For the rest of the week the teams planned how they were going to fund raise and how they were going to run their social action projects.

The week culminated in a Dragons Den where the teams had to present their social action project idea to the judges. Team 6 the R.O.T.H Foundation won with their original idea (to give out shoe boxes full of essentials to homeless people) and brilliant presentation which landed them £50 towards their project. It was an extremely hard decision as there were so many brilliant presentations that the teams had put a huge amount of work towards.

The time had come for the young people to run their social action projects. This week saw so many amazing projects being run and hopefully this is just the start of their journey.

Spruce Gang went to St Michael’s nursing home to re vamp the gardens so that the people had a nicer area to spend their leisure time. They made one of the staff cry twice she was so happy with what they did.

The R.O.T.H Foundation started the week with a sleep out to raise money and connect more with what homeless people went through. They also did a coffee morning which was open to all to help raise awareness for the stories of homeless people.

Access for all started a campaign to get 1000 signatures so that they could get the council to understand the problems elderly and disabled people in Chesterfield have getting around the town centre.

Generation together did some brilliant fundraising events such as a mock triathlon where they cycled, ran, cross trained and rowed the distance of Chesterfield to Brighton which is 240miles. They also did a glow walk around the outskirts of Chesterfield. They also planned to do a dog walk around Queens Park but this had to be cancelled due to weather. The money they raised went towards funding new beds, food and toys for a local RSPCA shelter.

The young people have made a huge difference to their local community but they have also been on a journey themselves. The experiences they have been through will stay with them for their lives. They are certainly on their way to being socially conscious young leaders.

 

“A massive thanks to all the participants for the amazing work they have put into their NCS journey, which brings to life why I do this job, and a huge thanks to the parents reading this for all the work you put in to get them ready for it. Keep up the good work!” – Simon (NCS Project Manager)