Students from across the country came to the QEII Centre in Westminster to celebrate completing the 2018/19 AQA Unlocking Potential programme.
AQA Unlocking Potential is a mentoring programme for young people aged 11 to 19 who have faced personal challenges or disadvantages. The programme is delivered in partnership with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, whose specially trained mentors competed at world-class sporting events – including the Olympics and Paralympics – and who have overcome their own significant personal challenges.
Over the last eight months, the selected students have been working with amazing athlete mentors from the Dame Kelly Holmes trust to help unlock hidden attributes and skills. As part of the programme all students deliver a social action project to help people in their community. This included raising awareness of mental health issues, dealing with exam stress, helping the homeless and collecting for food banks, fundraising events for various good causes and lots of sporting events to get more young people active and engaged in sport.
Toby Salt, AQA’s Chief Executive, said:
“Every year I am amazed at the achievements of the young people that take part in AQA Unlocking Potential. The journey they’ve been on and to see how far they have come in such a short space of time is truly inspirational.
“Our partnership with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust works really well and the impact of their athletes on these young people over the past eight months is clear for all to see.
“AQA Unlocking Potential really is very special – to be able to help young people to truly realise their own potential is what AQA, and this programme, is all about.”
Dame Kelly Holmes, double gold Olympian and founder of Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, said:
“To see more young people transformed through this life-changing programme is amazing and listening to them here today has been incredibly moving – they should all be really proud of what they’ve achieved.
“AQA Unlocking Potential is a fantastic programme and every year students excel. It’s not aimed at developing the potential of future sports stars, it’s designed to help young people facing disadvantage raise their self-esteem, confidence and aspirations. Today is about celebrating those achievements.
“The young people here today are our future. Well done to every single one of you. We’d also like to thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting us to reach even more young people on the 2018/19 programme."
Scott Taylor, Associate Assistant Principal at Sir Thomas Boughey Academy said:
“AQA Unlocking Potential has had an amazing impact both on the pupils and the school as a whole. The four students involved have all seen their attendance and behaviour improve, as well as their learning.
“The feedback from the social action projects has been fantastic. The OAP lunch and cinema was brilliantly received and the charity walk, where we covered the distance from Lands' End to John O'Groats, involved the entire school. Early indications are that we will reach £1000 to donate to the school charities.
“The pupils have come together as a team and grown in confidence as individuals. I have nothing but the highest praise for AQA Unlocking Potential and our brilliant mentor from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Neil Danns."