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Setting sights on new challenges
Young people from Bradford are gathering for a summer of physical challenges designed to boost confidence, teamwork and leadership skills.
Their new skills will be put to the test when they develop projects aimed at tackling social issues in their own communitie.
The Government-funded National Citizens Service is offering the “life-changing experience” for 15 to 17-year-olds. Over four weeks, 360 young people across the region will be engaged in a series of daring and adventurous activities, learning how to improve areas of life within their community, then putting their new skills into action by creating their own project for change.
Teams from Bradford have just finished the first week of NCS, involving challenging outdoor activities, and have moved to Bramhope this week where they are camping while learning technical and creative skills such as photography, DJ-ing and surviving in the outdoors.
Next week 70 more young people from the district will start a programme.
Bradford 16-year-old Theo Huggins is “excited to meet new people and have an adventure”.
He adds: “I think NCS 360 will give me a great confident boost, and by the end of the programme I’ll hopefully know how the community works and how I’ll be able to help in the future,” he adds.
Information days have been held in schools such as Tong High in Bradford. Free to Year 11 and 12 students, with the opportunity also available to 16 and 17-year-olds not in education, the programme involves a series of challenging activities in the Peak District, including rock climbing, abseiling and caving.
Participants will spend some time at home finding out about issues that affect their local area, and develop their own projects to tackle them.
Project leader Mel Dipple says NCS represents “a chance to be independent, gain experience that will look great on a CV and really achieve something special”.
She adds: “Young people can often be portrayed negatively. We want to prove that young people have lots to offer their communities, and can be a positive influence on their wider world.
“We have consistently found that with the right kind of support, they can come up with innovative and unique ideas to solve issues in their local areas.
“NCS 360 aims to empower young people from different backgrounds with the skills and attitudes to make a difference in their communities.”
While working together, away from home, on activities such as rock climbing, abseiling and caving, the idea is that the young participants will build the trust of each other.
The first week involves planning an overnight expedition, while the second week includes learning skills such as DJ-ing, photography and film-making, sourcing food in the wild, building a survival shelter, and workshops in jewellery-making and creating natural beauty products.
The programme will also involve meeting people from projects which are making a difference in communities across the region.
When the participants have returned home, they will work with mentors on looking at the issues that matter most in their communities.
“If there’s something you’re not happy with in your local area or society as a whole, this is their chance to make a difference,” says an NCS spokesman. “We’ll put them in touch with business leaders and talented people to pass on their knowledge, experience and advice to really make their project happen.”
At the end of the the third week, participants will pitch their ideas to local business leaders for possible funding, then deliver their project. Those taking part will be invited to a graduation ceremony, creating a sense of achievement.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he wanted the National Citizens Service to inspire young people and show them what they can achieve, as part of his Big Society vision.
“That’s a society where people don't always look to the Government for answers, but feel free and powerful enough to come together and work together to make things around them better,” he said.
“NCS will go a long way in instilling the ethic of duty in our teenagers. They’re the adults of tomorrow, so it’s right we give them more responsibility today.”
* There are still places available on this summer’s NCS programme, starting every Monday for the next three weeks. For more information, visit ncs360.org.uk or ring (0113) 387 6448.