Young people learn valuable life skills with Youth Connexions National Citizen Service

13 September 2016

71 young people from Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring and surrounding areas took part in the Youth Connexions National Citizen Service (NCS) programme this summer.

The four-week NCS programme sees young people choose worthwhile community causes to support, plan and budget for projects, raise funds and carry out the work. As well as learning how to successfully manage and complete a community project, the young people also take part in team-building exercises, which develop their communication, trust and leadership skills.

The first week of the programme was a residential at an outdoor education centre on the Isle of Wight. The young people took part in challenging activities designed to push them out of their comfort zone and develop their problem-solving, team work and communication skills. The activities included climbing, orienteering, archery, go-karting, high rope and zip line courses.

 

One of the participants, Jack (16) said “I have really enjoyed my first week… I tried lots of new things I have never done before”.

The second week was based at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield. Here the Youth Connexions Dacorum Team delivered a skills-building programme with a different theme each day. The young people all participated in:

  • First aid training and a workshop with Herts & Essex Air Ambulance staff which included a hard-hitting film with real-life testimony from victims of serious accidents to teach them about personal safety and risk management
  • Music workshops run by Herts Music Service in which they formed bands to create a song and took part in drumming workshops that used call and response games to improve communication and co-ordination skills
  • Personal well-being workshops on relaxation and stress management techniques, including mindfulness mediation sessions, a teen yoga session and sexual health workshop.

Keziah (16) said: “[because of NCS] I feel more confident in myself”.

For weeks three and four of the programme the young people divided into smaller teams to carry out social action projects. These included:

  • A sponsored fancy dress fun run to raise funds for the charity Hope for Children
  • Collecting shoes for Shoe Aid, a local charity which provides shoes for refugees
  • Transforming an overgrown patch of waste ground into a public garden with paths, grass areas and plants
  • Redecorating the IT room at Bennetts End Youth Centre with a world/cultures theme, upcycling recycled and waste materials to create a snug area at the centre with sofas and cushions, and revamping the activity area
  • Creating a series of posters and an information video to raise awareness of mental health issues, particularly depression and teenage suicide. This group also made a meditation/relaxation CD with music they composed themselves.

All the young people got back together for the final project: a public fun day in Hemel Hempstead town centre to raise awareness of wellbeing called ‘Smile Hemel’. This involved creating a leaflet about five ways to well-being and providing fun activities and games for children and young people at the event. They also performed a ‘flash mob’ with dancing and live music.

The event was attended by local MP, Mike Penning, who praised the young people for what they were trying to do.

Find out more about NCS with Youth Connexions here.

Want to sign up for the 2016 Autumn programme? Express your interest here.