College students from across Leeds came together this autumn to take part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme with Leeds Rhinos Foundation to make a positive difference within their local community and support local charities.
As part of the NCS programme, Leeds Rhinos Foundation helped to unite young people from throughout the city and engage them with their communities by giving them the opportunity to team up with local charities to come up with unique ways to support their fundraising drives.
From a sponsored walk to bake sales and awareness campaigns, the teenagers were able to design, plan and implement their own projects which utilised their creative skills and gave them the invaluable experience of carrying out volunteering work for causes they are truly passionate about. These included the MND Association, Leeds Women’s Aid and When You Wish Upon A Star, all of which rely on the generosity of community groups to continue their fantastic work in the community changing lives and providing vital support for those in need.
“It was great to be given the opportunity to plan for charity fundraising events and I’ve really enjoyed being part of a team working on something which gives back to our community,” commented NCS participant, Reece, 16.
“At first I felt a bit awkward with so many people I didn’t know, but once you start doing the activities together in smaller groups you really become comfortable, and having completed NCS I feel much more comfortable expressing myself in these kinds of social settings which is great.”
“I’m really thankful for all the people I’ve met and all the new friends I’ve made, and I feel like that’s something I’ll take away with me from NCS and look back on fondly in the future.”
This social action work followed the first two phases of the NCS programme, which were centred around giving participants the chance to take part in some amazing outdoor activities- creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime- and imbue them with transferable skills that will make them stand out from the crowd, boost their CV’s and benefit them in their working lives.
During the first week of the programme, held during the October half-term holidays, participants were led by the team from Carnegie Outdoors at Leeds Beckett University through a whole host of adventurous activities and outdoor learning- ranging from Archery and Stack Building, to Kayaking at the Reva Sports Centre and Abseiling down the famous Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor.
Upon their return to Headingley Stadium, the young people attended workshops focusing on developing their money management, self confidence, public speaking and university life, before kicking off their social action phase by conducting research and attending a charity carousal, where the organisations pitched their work and explained how the young people could undertake fundraising on their behalf.
Celebrating the success of the Autumn NCS programme, Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s new NCS Manager David O’Rourke said: “Once again we’ve seen a real desire from our participants to immerse themselves in the social action work and help make a positive difference in their local community.
“The social action work creates a kind of environment where structured thinking and innovation is rewarded, and I think that’s really important to get the best out of these young people at a critical age where they are testing their capabilities and taking on a more independent way of working. So there’s the social action aspect which I’m a massive champion, and the educational benefits of acquiring life skills that maybe at school or College they probably won’t have had the opportunity to encounter or develop before.
“One of the main things that NCS has always been about is social integration. It’s about getting young people to step out of their comfort zones to engage with other people, activities or volunteering in a way which they wouldn’t normally do. You see it time and time again the lifelong friendships that are forged on NCS through their shared experiences and it really does provide a unique experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
NCS will return with Leeds Rhinos Foundation in Summer 2022, with full details of the programme set to be announced soon. For further information about our NCS Programme, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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