Unlocking Potential youngsters prepare for the ‘Dragons’ Den’

Published: Monday 28 Apr 2014

The young people on the prestigious AQA Unlocking Potential programme are in Leicester today, pitching their ideas for developing community projects to a 'Dragons' Den' style panel made up of ten elite athlete mentors, including Olympians and Paralympians.

Now in its third year, AQA Unlocking Potential is a unique eight-month mentoring programme which pairs teenagers who are facing challenging personal circumstances with elite athletes who provide motivation and mentoring. It is not designed for individuals interested in sport or for developing future sports stars, but is aimed at any young person who needs an inspirational helping hand. AQA funds the programme, which is delivered in partnership with athletes from the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust.

This year, 21 places were available for the programme, which is designed to support young people aged between 14 and 19. The participants were nominated by their teachers and will receive one-to-one intensive mentoring and dedicated support to create and deliver a community project.

Two-time England boxing champion, Hannah Beharry, and European skateboarding champion, Neil Danns, are among the ten athletes who are mentoring this year and will be putting the teenagers through their paces in a series of activities during the day.

Following the London launch of this year's programme in March, the young people have travelled to Leicester to work in teams and alongside the athletes to share ideas and plan a project of their choice that will benefit their local communities. They will also be supported in their applications for funding to help them deliver their projects.

Last year, participants raised over £7,000 for charity with community projects that included a charity fashion show, a personal video project about life in foster care and a charity dodgeball tournament to raise funds for a guide dog.

A small team of volunteers from across AQA is also on hand to offer participants overall support and feedback on their sales pitches, funding applications and community projects.

The athlete mentors are also visiting schools and colleges and providing one on one practical support to help the young people bring their community projects to life.

This year the Unlocking Potential sports mentors include:

  • London 2012 Team GB swimmer; Olympian and Double Commonwealth Champion, Ross Davenport (East Midlands)
  • Youth Olympic and Commonwealth medallist, Lee Shinkin, Judo (London)
  • 2006 Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships, Romaine Bailey (London)
  • Two-time Paralympic gold medallist, Graham Edmunds (south east)
  • Judo champion, Tom Davis (south west)
  • Commonwealth medallist hockey player, Charlotte Hartley (West Midlands)
  • GB Rugby League player and Challenge Cup winner, Paul Broadbent (Wakefield, West Yorkshire)
  • GB champion boxer, Amanda Coulson (Hartlepool)

Please visit the Unlocking Potential page for more details on the programme and to watch the former participants' stories.

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