YOUNGSTERS in Bradford are being given the chance to help their communities through a new social venture programme.

Shipley-based community development charity, Participate Projects, is launching the programme, called The Venturists, which will educate, empower and encourage primary school pupils to improve their local area for the better.

A pilot scheme, involving The Academy at St James in Chellwood Drive, Allerton, has seen children making hedgehog and bird houses, creating a nature garden to encourage wildlife into the local area, helping the homeless and developing an upcycled play area to enhance their wellbeing and exercise.

The new programme will work with children aged 9-11 to identify real issues within the community and give them the chance to start viable social action projects, that make positive changes to their locality.

Funded by UnLtd Inclusive Recovery Fund, and partners Comic Relief and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media Sport (DCMS), The Venturists, will work collaboratively with local stakeholders, community professionals and business volunteers across the district, who will provide guidance to help turn children’s ideas into reality.

The programme will be delivered over approximately 26 hours and can either be ‘guided’, where one of Participates’ qualified teachers will go into school and deliver the sessions. Or ‘teacher-led’, where the class teacher, or professional equivalent, can access the required resources through an online portal.

Chris Tolsen, headteacher at The Academy at St James, said: “We have been really pleased with the work that Participate Projects have delivered to our Year 6 class since October 2020.

“It’s been a tough year for us all, however having this project has really empowered the children and has given them something really positive to focus on.

“By allowing them to identify their own issue in the community, has really allowed the children to use their voice and channel it into doing something good. It has also enhanced their confidence, team working and leadership skills, aspects that we encourage at St James. We are really looking forward to seeing the finished projects and how the rest of the community will respond to them.’

With support from the England-wide investment initiative #iwill fund, administered by Give Bradford, Participate Projects has been delivering the project as at The Academy at St James since November, and has adapted its learning structure to be in line with the pandemic.

Working with local organisations, such as Unorthobox, Lower Grange Community Centre and Gro Communications, the project has been successful and made positive impacts to children’s enthusiasm, independence, communication skills and overall passion for learning.

The programme structure will echo the National Curriculum active citizenship, and will promote British values through spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development. It is also in line with Ofsted’s guidelines and hopes to enhance students learning behaviours and attitudes, such as concentration, motivation, and organisational skills.

Anthony Waddington, Chief Executive of Participate Projects said: “We have been really pleased with the response to our new initiative so far. The feedback from St James has been very positive and the ideas developed by the children have been fantastic. Despite Covid-19 delaying original timescales, we are delighted that we have still been able to deliver the project and the school and children have benefitted from our initiative.

“We are looking forward to delivering The Venturists into other primary schools across the Bradford District from September 2021. It will have a whole host of benefits for the children, school and the community, giving young people a voice and building our future leaders.’

The programme, which has a fee, can be delivered into schools from September 2021. Taking part can be flexible with start dates to fit around schools timetables. Participate encourage primary schools to get in touch via email or to visit