Following the success of our first boys’ conference and girls’ empowerment day last July, we held another day-long event, this time focusing on empowering our girls with a conference entitled Women of the Future and encouraging our boys with a day of sessions aimed at addressing key issues that boys face as they progress through adolescence towards becoming an adult.
The girls’ conference got underway with the first keynote speaker, Innovation Consultant Lesley Pinder inspiring the girls with a talk about her career in the charity sector, “...we always need new voices, new ideas: you are the future."
The boys’ day was introduced with a motivational talk from our own Mr Gunter before local entrepreneur Janina Cooper spoke about her journey to open the successful skatepark and community hub, The Base, at Shripney.
The highlight of the day for many of our young people was meeting the twice-World Scooter Champion, Jordan Clark, who delighted the boys in the Sports hall by performing tricks and twists.
Jordan generously stayed during break to perform a few more tricks in the courtyard, offer tips to keen scooter rider Jamie Stafford and sign autographs and pose for selfies.
For both groups, the majority of the day was spent in rotation in different activities. The girls got to try out self-defence classes, and meet Team GB gymnast Rochelle Oxley—”...if you want to dance, do dance; if you want to do computing, do computing—don’t be influenced by what your friends want to do.”
Other sessions got them thinking about ways of boosting their self-esteem and embracing a sense of gratitude and well-being through strategies to develop thankfulness for even the small things in life.
A ‘careers fair’ session introduced them to four successful women - firstly Sarah Bligh from the Royal Navy who talked about how her career had allowed her to help other people, travel the world and make a difference.
Louise Rigglesford, Community Partnerships Manager at the Chichester Festival Theatre, spoke about her passion for using theatre skills to work with varied community groups including those with dementia or learning disabilities to empower and enthuse them.
Hairdresser Laura Grimwood spoke of the need to follow your passions. Despite knowing she wanted to train as a hairdresser, she embarked on A levels and then was awarded a degree in biology and emergency medicine intended to work as a paramedic before returning to her original idea and passion of hairdressing.
Finally leather accessories designer and maker Tamzin Lillywhite (a student of the former Westergate Community School) gave an insight into the world of fashion and what it is like to style high profile figures such as Little Mix and on leading films such as Wonder Woman, when she was tasked with designing and making 47 items in just one week! Most recently she has done some work for the upcoming film Mary Poppins Returns. Tamzin’s key message for our girls was to be resilient and hard-working.
Sessions specifically for Y11 students included revision pods and a session ‘Acing Exams’ with tips and hints delivered by a team from Chichester College.
The boys’ sessions centred around three main topics.
’The Modern Man’ looked at challenging gender stereotypes and delved into the important topic of mental health, including how society is gradually reducing the stigma surrounding mental health problems and strategies to recognise and support potential changes in their own mental health.
A final unit—investing in yourself—encouraged the boys to think about things they could do to set them apart from others and give them a competitive advantage in, for example, their career. The boys each wrote pledge cards at the end of the session to remind them of the action they would take to become the man they wanted to be.
The session 'Rights, Respect, Responsibilities' gave boys a chance to form a creative response to questions such as “Have you been bullied?, “Have you ever helped someone?”, “Have you given to charity?” The boys created artwork on an MDF ‘brick’ depending on whether the question was a right, respect or a responsibility.
These finished ‘bricks’ will be assembled to build a ‘Wall of Rights’ to be on show in the Gate Theatre. The wall will have a foundation of ‘Rights’, then ‘Responsibilities’, finally topped with a layer of ‘Respect’.
The third session ‘Why Fight?’ looked at the use of child soldiers throughout history—to provide a context for why we fight and evaluate the triggers for violence as well as strategies for how to defuse violent or angry situations.
The day closed with a keynote speaker for each group; former RAF pilot, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Mandy Hickson delivered the final talk of the day to the girls, whilst the boys’ closing address was from Paul Sanderson MBE, Chaplain at the Littlehampton Academy who is passionate about the spiritual welfare and development of young people.
You can see more photos from the day in our gallery below:
Mrs T Clayton, Marketing & Communications
Posted 6 April 2017