Students from secondary schools in Hastings and Rother learnt how to be role models for younger students at an event on Wednesday, May 4, at the Hastings Centre.
Some 80 students aged 13-14 from local secondary schools were joined by 10 and 11 year olds from Hollington Primary Academy, The Baird Primary Academy and ARK Little Ridge, as part of the inspirational Be the Change programme.
Facilitated by LoveLocalJobs.com and social enterprise humanutopia, along with mentors from local businesses, education and the public sector, Be the Change helps young people fulfill their potential and improve their life chances. It focuses on happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability by identifying and removing barriers to success and raising aspirations. Over the course of the school year the students have six opportunities to work with business volunteers at day long events, one-to-one mentoring sessions and workplace visits.
humanutopia’s founders, Carlo Missirian and Graham Moore, both former teachers who understand the challenges facing young people today, led the hero training event. They said: “Our vision is for every young person to have raised hope and confidence, to have the chance to develop life skills and create positive cycles that will prepare them for life.
“Working with the younger children brings out the “hero” or role model in our students. It promotes qualities such as leadership, team working and a sense of responsibility to those around them, especially younger and more vulnerable people. This activity also offers a great chance for the 10 and 11 year olds to develop their confidence and experience of being around secondary school students in preparation for moving into higher education.”
Jane Cotman, Year 5 teacher from ARK Little Ridge Primary School, commented: “It was a fantastic afternoon for our year 5s! They really enjoyed the activities, particularly the opportunity to speak out about their feelings using the microphone.”
The secondary schools involved in the programme are ARK Helenswood Academy, ARK William Parker Academy, Robertsbridge Community College, Rye College, St Richard’s Catholic College and The St Leonards Academy.
Shelley Clark is the Behaviour Systems Manager at Rye College. She said: “What an impactful day! It was lovely to see the changes in all the students in such a short space of time. This has been a great programme so far and I hope it has the opportunity to continue and grow.”
The idea for Be the Change came from Gary Peters, Founder of LoveLocalJobs.com. He said: “We believe that Be the Change has the power to dramatically improve lives. David Cameron said earlier this year that there are around 25,000 pupils about to start their GCSEs who are at-risk of under-achieving or dropping out and that he wants businesses to mentor at-risk teenagers. Well, this is exactly what we are doing right here in Sussex in collaboration with local employers, universities and local authorities.”
There are three separate programmes taking place across East and West Sussex. Be the Change Hastings is a collaboration between LoveLocalJobs.com and social enterprise humanutopia with support from Hastings Borough Council, Sussex Learning Network, University of Brighton, Heart FM and local businesses.
Sarah Williams, Director of Sussex Learning Network, said: “The Sussex Learning Network is delighted to be sponsoring the Be the Change programme right across Sussex this year – it’s providing a fantastic opportunity for our educational partners to engage with young people in a really innovative and inspiring way, and we hope to be able to continue to support the programme for years to come.”
Cllr Dawn Poole, Hasting Borough Council’s Lead Member for Regeneration, added: “We are very pleased to support Be the Change. Providing opportunities and enabling young people to develop skills and qualifications they need for better futures is imperative. We look forward to the future success of the scheme and to see aspirations raised in the young people of Hastings”.