For the last two years, Sharon Davies has taken Key Stage 3 students from Chapel-en-le-Frith High School to Challenge4Change as a reward following Saturday School sessions and has found the experience to be hugely valuable and popular.
“Challenge4 Change has proven to be an immense hit with Chapel Superstar students,” she said. “In fact, the ‘Leap of Faith’ has assumed almost legendary proportions within this cohort. Why do I value Challenge4 Change so much? Why do I keep coming back year after year? Why do students who have attended the Saturday Superstars as year 8 students frantically volunteer to be student leaders in year 9 to assist the programme the next year?
“I’d like to give you my opinion of Challenge4Change. I had heard of indoor outdoor activity centres, not really seeing the value in today’s educational backdrop – how wrong I was. The leaders at Challenge4 Change have that unique ‘coolness’ that mere teachers can’t attain no matter how we try. They manage to instantly relate to our students, particularly, the disadvantaged students, with a bond that allows the student to push themselves out of their comfort zone to reach their potential.
“For me that sums it up; it’s in the name, students really are challenged for change. I witnessed a student in tears, shaking from adrenaline and euphoric in her achievement overcoming her fear of heights, volunteering to accompany another equally ‘scared’ student back up on the high rope challenge in her quest to see the other student feel the joy she is feeling at beating her fear! Those memories stay with me, those children and the whole Saturday School community.
“The leaders are in the privileged position that teachers can’ t exploit, of setting a team building task, detailing the parameters and then refraining from offering additional support when students try to bend the rules of the task by asking for further clarification. What you see following this refusal to help and support, something teachers are programmed to do, is phenomenal – you see resilient students developing.
“They dig deep and realise they possess the skills, knowledge, know-how themselves. Fledgling leaders the playing field is levelled. Popularity or perceived intelligence no longer restrict the students’ interactions and it is truly wonderful, inspiring and an epiphany to watch.
“Students, who are usually overlooked, even unpopular, are elevated to positions of admiration as they succeed in skills not commonly accessed in the regular school day. This boost in self confidence remains beyond the confines of the walls of Challenge4 change; the students take something, although not tangible, very real and incredibly valuable home with them.”