Bexhill students celebrated the end of a ‘fantastic’ scheme designed to boost their confidence and aspirations with a ‘graduation’ ceremony on Monday (July 18).
Year nine pupils from Bexhill Academy came together to complete the Be the Change programme with Bexhill mayor Simon Elford handing out certificates.
The 120 students celebrated their journey with the 30 business volunteers from Hastings Direct, course leaders from humanutopia and LoveLocalJobs.com, and teachers who have supported them.
Speaking to the audience, a student said: “Be the Change has helped me be more confident in my learning.
“It’s also helped my life at home – I used to be rude to my mum but now I feel more in control, I’ve gained more strength and more respect and feel proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Over the last four months, the students have been taking part in a series of activities designed to improve behaviour and to introduce them to job and career opportunities.
The businessmen and women have been working with the students on an individual and group-basis as well a number of showpiece events with the organisers.
Cllr Elford said it was ‘amazing’ to meet the students and wished he was given the same opportunities when he was at school.
“I found it a struggle when I left school but I found inner confidence and became proud of myself,” he said.
“I wish I had this type of programme to help guide my decisions when I was 13 years old.
“I wish all the students the best of luck in the future.”
Bexhill Academy assistant principal Trudy Hillman said: “Be the Change has been a fantastic programme for our Year 9 students.
“As well as developing their own confidence, self-esteem and resilience, the students have had to face new experiences that prepare them for the world of employment.
“Working with adult mentors, reflecting on their own behaviours and work place visits has had a significant and potentially lasting impact.
“Bexhill Academy looks forward now to seeing some of our students support next year’s Be The Change programme, and using their skills to support our younger students throughout the school.”
Hastings Direct’s events executive Jay Wootten added: “The Be the Change graduation was another really positive event to be part of; to hear the plans of the students for the future was very humbling and refreshing.
“It is clear that the Be the Change programme has made a big difference to all involved - which is great to see.”
Rosanna Farrar from Lovelocaljob.com said: “We have been overwhelmed by the success of the Be the Change programme at Bexhill Academy.
“It was incredible to see the positive changes made and the difference in so many of the students.
“Hastings Direct should be so proud of the impact they have had on so many young people.”
Humanutopia co-founders Graham Moore and Carlo Missirian said: “Hastings Direct is the only company to fully support a Be the Change programme as a lead sponsor and has decided to support the wonderful community of Bexhill Academy.
“Through this engagement, the company and their hugely committed volunteers have helped to support the young people with developing skills in hope, confidence, happiness relationships and employability.
“It also has given the students an insight into working life for a large successful national company that sits within their community.
“Bexhill Academy has also embraced supported the programme ensuring that the students have access to this unique opportunity.”
Students from across 1066 country, including St Richard’s Catholic College, have been involved with the Be the Change project, and many celebrated their ‘graduation’ last week.
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