AQA Unlocking Potential students enjoy virtual celebration

Published: Tuesday 25 Aug 2020

AQA Unlocking Potential, a life changing mentoring programme for young people, has held its first virtual celebration event.

The event to celebrate the end of this year’s programme, which is delivered in partnership by AQA and the Dame Kelly Homes Trust, was originally due to be held at London Zoo but was moved online to make sure students didn’t miss out on celebrating their achievements.

It was hosted by athlete mentor Neil Danns, and students were joined live by Col. Dame Kelly Holmes, who congratulated the young people on completing the programme and answered questions from the students. AQA Chief Executive Mark Bedlow also joined to congratulate the young people.

With the event taking place online, all the young people were sent some Just Eat vouchers so they could enjoy the experience with family and friends at home or in their school. Each student also received a certificate acknowledging their completion of the programme and £50 of Amazon vouchers. Three schools got a special award of Beats Audio headphones in extra recognition for their work on their isolation projects during lockdown.

The isolation projects included students walking two marathons over two weeks and raising over £500 for charity, videos about the coronavirus and its impact on schools and young people, a website to provide technical tips and advice for others - and one student made a podcast to help others through lockdown.

Students from Priory Pembroke Academy in Lincolnshire - one of the special award winners - were interviewed by Neil Danns and shared their thoughts on how the programme had helped them and their hopes for the future. The other two special award winning schools were Etone College in Warwickshire and Ethos College in West Yorkshire.

After the event the young people had a final online session with their athlete mentors.

AQA’s Chief Executive, Mark Bedlow, said:

“It was great to see the efforts the Trust, teachers and students have made to keep the programme going during school closures and I’m so pleased they’ve been able to have this celebration event today in recognition of all their hard work.

“I wish them all the best for the future and hope this programme has helped them on their way to fully realising their potential.”

Col. Dame Kelly Holmes said:

“It was a real pleasure to join the event and speak to all the students who took part in the programme this year. Lockdown has been so difficult for many people, but I was so impressed by the videos, podcasts and fundraising activities completed by so many of the students for their social action projects during this period.

“While of course it was sad we couldn’t meet in person, I really enjoyed taking part in the Q&A session. There were some great questions from the students and I wish everyone all the best for the next stages in their journeys, as life starts to come back to some form of normality.”

Neil Danns, athlete mentor at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and former European and British skateboarding champion, added:

“It was great to host the event and be able to recognise the achievements of these young people, especially at such a difficult time.

“We really hope they enjoyed the day as much as we’ve enjoyed being on this journey with them. They are inspiration to all of us here at the Trust and everyone at AQA.”

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