On Thursday, I was invited to be part of a Dragon's Den type panel by the team at Action 4 Youth. During the summer, A4Y put dozens and dozens of young Bucks people (which includes MK) through a three week 'National Citizen Service' programme:
NCS For Your TeenIt looks to be a fantastic programme, one that is well worth exploring for next summer if you or a young person you know is at the right age (15-17 I think). The bit I was involved with involved teams of around a dozen young people making a pitch for up to £50 to seed-fund their plans to raise money and support a local charity. To use A4Y's description:
National Citizen Service (NCS) is a 2-4 week programme which takes place outside of term time in the spring, summer and autumn holidays. NCS is proven to have a massive impact on young people’s lives.
The Dragons Den is the day after the groups have visited their charity and follows an intensive 24 hours of project planning. Each team has been planning a social action project and this is now their chance to present their ideas to you. On this day you can make a difference by:- Your questions and feedback help improve the quality of Social Action Projects- Your presence as part of the panel of Dragons demonstrates to the young people that their social action projects are important and this encourages accountabilitySo I was treated to seven presentations by diverse teams who all had fantastic ideas about how they were going to support their chosen charities (such as Sparkles, Wheelpower, Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse or the Bucks County Museum). Lots of plans to do sponsored walks, three-legged hikes and triathlons... lots of cakes being made and sold at a profit etc. All the teams were fab and a couple really stood out. Most got between £40 and £45 with best team getting the full £50. I worked with Nick Lund (A4Y Development Director, Jenifer Cameron (A4Y CEO) and Richard Stansfield (A4Y Trustee) on the panel. We had a great time and as always, I was blown away by the ingenuity, energy and commitment of the young people.
The facility that A4Y run at the Outdoor Education Centre in Caldecotte is amazing. Here are a few pics I took as Nick showed me around before the 'Den' started. It is used lots by local schools, youth groups etc. What a fantastic set of facilities.
Nick inside the hub of of the yurt villages
A yurt dorm
This mound includes a series of tunnels and cavern to crawl around in! I think I could only fit in the biggest tunnel!
And some fabulous sailing boats and equipment including a totally accessible boat.
And there is much, much more including a massive climbing wall (or two) - one of which is equipped to allow people in wheelchairs to abseil down. So go there if you can! And support A4Y if you can too!