Teenagers from the Andover area are taking part in a national programme aimed at making them more confident and better citizens.
Across the country, the National Citizen Service (NCS) is giving 16 and 17-year-olds the chance to grow in confidence, help charities and the wider community, and experience living away from home.
It also gives them skills not normally taught at school, but which helps make them become more supportive, resilient and successful adults.
The scheme – which is being run in Andover by Valley Leisure, the charitable trust that runs the town’s leisure centre – takes place over four weeks during the summer.
It includes an adventure week, with lots of team building activities, a week away fending for themselves and two weeks where they raise money and support local charities and community projects.
Two weeks into the programme, and the group have been away in Falmouth, done a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ style challenge, visited to a local food bank, taken part in the Harrow Way School’s fair-play football match, and created items for the Ugly Duckling woodwork shop, run by Mind in Andover to create recycled items to sell.
And the change in their maturity and confidence is already obvious to the mentors working for Valley Leisure on the scheme.
“To begin with my group were all shy but the confidence that I have seen build is just mind-blowing. It’s brilliant!” said mentor Rebecca Farndell-Thorne.
The young people on the course have also created and performed a drama and dance show for residents at the Clifford House care home and worked with members of Mencap to maintain a garden.
The students have also raised £350 for charity so far, and expect to raise much more by the end of the sessions.
Valley Leisure is the only leisure trust chosen to run the NCS scheme in the whole country. And this year they’re running the NCS hubs from Andover Leisure Centre with students from Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester.