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14 September 2012

This summer London Youth worked as a franchise partner of The Challenge, to deliver their National Citizen Service programme to 150 young people in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. 

The programme is designed to encourage young people at the end of year 11 to challenge themselves and try new things. The first week, the Personal Challenge aims to push them physically doing activities such as Rock Climbing and Hiking. For some of the waves this took place at our very own Hindleap Warren! This week aims to boost young people’s confidence in themselves, encourage them to conquer their fears and show them how much they can achieve.

During the second week of the programme, the Team Challenge, Challengers stay in university accommodation. In their teams they develop one of five skills (photography, media, enterprise, drama and sport) and learn to use these to help and engage with the local community, whether in a school or residential care home. This week ends with The Showcase, a performance where their families are invited to come and view what they have been working on.

The final week of the programme is the Real Challenge. The young people visit a community partner and design a sponsorship activity to raise money for that charity they visit and pitch for £100 to go towards their target. Their final task of the week is to design a campaign that is achievable, innovative, and that they feel passionate about. For London Youth this has been extremely valuable; there are so many different charities around Hackney and Tower Hamlets and it has been great working with them and learning from each other. 

The teams also visit professional partners to get feedback and input about their campaign idea. The week culminates in the great finale of The Dragons Den – where the young people pitch to professionals from different sectors.

The Challenge encourages young people to talk to others they might not normally meet, introducing them to volunteering and engaging them with the community. But, I think the most important thing is that it proves to young people that they can change things, whether those things are big or small.

What I have learnt can be summed up by Carl Clarke (London Youth's Dare London Coordinator) who said, after the showcase: “You guys are not the future. You are the now”.