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Charity aims to empower young people through new social venture programme

COMMUNITY development charity, Participate Projects, has launched a new social venture programme designed for primary schools, which will help educate, empower and encourage young people to positively change the community.

The new programme, The Venturists, 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 the local area. The Venturists is funded by Unltd Inclusive Recovery Fund and partners Comic Relief and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media Sport (DCMS). It 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 the programme’s online portal.

The Venturists will work collaboratively with local stakeholders, community professionals and business volunteers across the Bradford District, who will provide guidance to help turn the children’s idea into reality. The programme structure will echo the National Curriculum, active citizenship & promotes British Values through Spiritual, Moral, Social & 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.

With support from the #iwill fund, administered by Give Bradford, Participate Projects has been delivering the project as a pilot in St James’ Academy since November 2020 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 on children’s enthusiasm, independence, communication skills and overall passion for learning.

Some of the projects developed by the children have been making hedgehog and birdhouses, 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. Participate Projects hopes to see the children’s ideas completed by the end of the school year.

Chris Tolsen, Headteacher at St James’ Academy, 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, which 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.”

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.

“As schools reopen fully, 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 Venturists is available for school enquiries at the end of March 2021 and can be delivered into schools from September 2021. With The Venturists being a 26-hour led programme, Participate can be flexible with start dates to fit around schools timetables.

Participate encourage primary schools to get in touch via email: venturists@participateprojects.org.uk or to visit The Venturists – Participate (participateprojects.org.uk).

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