Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Consider sending your Year 11 child away with NCS this Summer.

Picture it now, the Summer holidays are upon us and your 16/17 year old are being argumentative and really irritating you, up half the night, sleeps half the day, rarely off their electronic gadgets. Got an answer for everything, that is if you can get more than a grunt out of them. If this sounds like your household then read on. I may just have an idea that will be the answer to your prayers.

Teenagers are a strange breed and a law unto themselves. Part of being a teenager is to push the boundaries not just at home but in school and out in the community as well. Teenagers need help to learn what those boundaries are and part of this learning process is being away from home and doing things for themselves. Learning to be independent often starts at a young age with play group and nursery, but carries on all through childhood.

I, as a grandparent, feel the children of today do not challenge themselves in the way we did as children and that modern children are more protected and this is not always a good thing. Children need to challenge themselves, risk assess for themselves and to use an old fashioned saying "learn the hard way".

Our children need to learn life skills by putting themselves outside their comfort zone in a safe and supervised environment. I know when my own children were young we lived in a designated area of deprivation and I was a volunteer in an urban aid funded project that ran holiday play schemes for the local children. They got a lot out of this and it was great to see them blossom and grow. My daughter was eleven the year she was put in charge of the tuck shop. From picking the volunteers to work with her, going to the cash and carry and deciding what to buy as well as counting and banking the money. While there was an adult with her for her safety the responsibility for it being stocked and run well was all hers. Children thrive with challenges and she still has fond memories of that time.

 I am sure the majority of us have heard of The Duke of Edinburgh awards (DofE) and the challenges and opportunities this offers young people but I have to say I have not heard about National Citizen Service (NCS)  before now.

What is NCS?

NCS say they are more than a youth programme, they are a network of grassroots organisations that offers unique experiences that has a positive impact to enable 16 and 17 year olds to become better individuals and better citizens. It is open to children in England and Northern Ireland. It varies in length from 2-4 weeks and takes place in school holidays. The course brings together people from different backgrounds to offer a unique shared experience . The course is residential and the young people participate in community based projects and over seven million hours of time has been put into communities.

NCS was piloted with just 158 children in 2009, became a government backed programme in 2011, and now they have had almost 400.000 children go through the scheme, making them the fastest growing youth organisation for a century. This year more than 100,000 teenagers from all walks of life will get together to develop skills and build community projects. It is not to late to add your teenager to that number. There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. To sign up now go to the NCS website.  

NCS appreciate that families may have other arrangements, but this can be worked round with various dates available. Why not go and have a look at their website for further information so that they can arrange a spot on a programme at a time that suits your family?

The course puts the children through a series of challenging activities. This progressive journey takes them out of their comfort zone and hands over more responsibility as the course progresses. They learn to connect with their local community and both the individual as well as the community benefits. It is amazing value for money, for the funding government as well as the community, with £1.15 to £2.42 of benefits back to society for every £1 spent. This makes them better individuals, better future employees and a valued member of the local community. A sense of pride and feeling appreciated are a great emotional boost.

The course itself is easily affordable with all food, accommodation and travel costs included at a maximum cost of £50. Now I don't know about you but I could never feed my teen for that little during school holidays. They are allowed to take minimal spending money but they recommend no more than £10 per person. There are bursaries available for some children, this is calculated on each individual young persons needs.

The website informs you that the children do not get their mobile phones during activity time, while some of them may moan about this I think it is a good thing to get them doing something non electronic.

The world is a changed place since I was a teenager just two generations ago.  Jobs were much easier to come by and you as the worker could pick and choose what you wanted to do. Today the general public have much higher expectations that they did in my day. I remember expressions like " the customer is always right" well believe me having worked in retail that is not always true but respect and tolerance had to be shown regardless.

To hold down a place in society your teenager needs to not only be given the right tools but also to be shown how to use them correctly, to grasp any opportunities and learn respect for others around them. We need to make our children feel worthy and valued members of society. The world does not owe them a living, they have to earn that living.

By sending your 16/17 years olds off for two to four weeks you are helping them build their confidence, their self esteem, and giving them the next valuable step towards being an adult in a difficult world, and giving them a break from you at the same time.

You can find out more about NCS on their social media pages;
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This is a collaborative post

1 comment:

  1. Such a great opportunity for teenagers , I wish something like this had been about when I was young.
    I’m going to recommend my niece when she is older enough signs up and my nephew who is 17.


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