BY HANNAH BARR
At Doorsteps, we’re now a few weeks in to the second year of running Find Your Fire, our youth leadership development programme.
We’ve had such a strong start to the year and have been really blown away by how much interest and enthusiasm there has been for the project from young people, parents, and the schools we work with in East Oxford. We even had to create a waiting list for participants as we were oversubscribed!
As part of Find Your Fire, the young people have the chance to gain a Level 1 NOCN award in skills for employment, training, and personal development.
This award is made up of three units: team work, taking part in an activity and interpersonal skills. For the first unit, we recently spent the day together at Youlbury, an outward bounds centre on the edge of Oxford.
For the away day, the young people had one session on team-building exercises, one on archery, and one on backwards cooking (which basically just means cooking outdoors). Each element presented challenges in a myriad ways.
Some of the young people we work with really struggle with their confidence and low self-esteem, a few of them are non-neurotypical which means they have additional needs… and let’s also not forget they’re all rambunctious teenagers!
These different factors contributed their own challenges and for a variety of reasons meant the young people were going to have to work really hard to achieve the team-building unit of their accreditation.
The staff at Youlbury were fantastic. Team-building exercises can sound quite dry, but the staff turned the activities into games and challenges with captured the imaginations of the young people, so the floor became lava and they could only be protected if they carried with them the magic helmet; at other times they were on magic carpets.
They got to show off their contortionist skills, race against the clock and really push themselves. (One of the exercises temporarily caused my heart to stop as, when I had done that game at their age, I ended up with a broken wrist. However thankfully no-one was hurt and they all had a blast!)
Hannah Woods, Doorsteps Lead Youth Worker, comments: “My prayer for the away day was that everyone would have a chance to be the hero and my favourite moment was when one guy who we’d struggled to connect with before now showed himself to be an absolute legend at engineering and helped us all through the team-building exercises.”
Our early assessment indicates that all who came on the away day have passed the team-building element to their accreditation which is fantastic news – but this is just the beginning of the year, there is so much more to come.
Find Your Fire is not about producing the ‘finished article’ but rather it is about coming alongside a group of teenagers and helping them to realise their dreams and aspirations, helping to equip them with the skills they need in order to thrive.
It’s about demonstrating to them week in, week out that there are people who believe in them and who are championing them.