AQA launches 2014 Unlocking Potential programme

Published: Tuesday 4 Mar 2014

The names of the 22 young people who have been successfully nominated to take part in a unique mentoring programme have been announced by education charity and leading provider of qualifications, AQA.

Now in its third year the Unlocking Potential programme, run jointly by AQA and the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, supports young people who are facing challenging personal circumstances by pairing them with elite Olympic class athletes for an eight-month mentoring programme.

Teachers from across the country were last year invited to nominate individual students aged between 14 and 19 who they felt would most benefit from the scheme to help develop their confidence and provide an additional outlet for supporting their creativity.

The 2014 programme will be launched at an event on 6 March in London that will bring together the young people with their athlete mentors for the first time.

Over 100 entries were received and the panel for the final judging included ASCL President Ian Bauckham and Richard Hollywood, Principal of Mid Cheshire College.

Two-time England boxing champion, Hannah Beharry, Olympian and Double Commonwealth Champion Ross Davenport and European skateboarding champion, Neil Danns, are amongst the athletes who are mentoring this year's programme.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of AQA, said:

"It was really difficult to decide on the final participants for this year's programme.  We are especially thankful to the teachers who took the time to identify those extra special young people who need a helping hand and will benefit from skilled mentoring support outside the classroom.

"These committed athlete mentors know exactly what it takes to overcome adversity and succeed at top levels in sport and life, and will help these young people who have already displayed inner strength and courage to feel inspired to realise their potential."

Participants on the programme work in groups and on a one to one basis with athletes to plan and deliver a project of their choice that will deliver benefits for their local community.

Former participants have put on a charity fashion show, made a personal video project about life in foster care and organised a charity dodgeball tournament to raise funds for a guide dog whilst raising over £7,000 for charity.

The scheme which is funded by education charity AQA, the leading provider of GCSEs and A-levels, has also been praised by teachers for raising the motivation, confidence levels and achievements of participants.

Dame Kelly Holmes said:

"I'm really excited about this year's Unlocking Potential programme, which we run in partnership with AQA. Last year we had such amazing transformations in the young people who took part. I strongly believe that it can take just one person to change the course of a young person's life – just like my PE teacher, who identified my talent for running when I was a girl and believed in me. The unique thing about this programme is that young people have one-to-one mentoring with an inspiring athlete over eight months, and together they work on a project which has an impact on their school and whole community.

"To each of the 22 young people involved in Unlocking Potential I would say: just grab the opportunity with both hands as this is once-in-a-lifetime. I'm looking forward to meeting the young people and hearing all about their journeys and wish them the best of luck."  

See our Unlocking potential page for more details on the programme and to hear the young people's stories.

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