The Magic of NCS #Week3

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Three weeks down, one to go… The realisation that the NCS journey is almost over was evident on Friday when the good-byes were being said. But as this is a positive page, and I have been given the nickname Mr Brightside, I will of course focus on all the good things that have happened this week, saving the sentimental speeches for another day!

Team Chando’s (The Cheekiest of Cheeky Nando’s) were in their home town, Coalville, and were based at The Christ Church for the first week of the Social Action Project (SAP). And so, Monday morning, the daunting task of finding, agreeing, planning and executing a community project during the 2 weeks of SAP was staring us in the face. With nothing more than a few business based workshops from the University as training and a bit of local knowledge of the area, we attacked the week with the aim of leaving a Chando’s sized imprint on the local community. Cutting to the chase, after a wander around Coalville Park to check what could be done there, conducting a survey of the public and a few votes from the team, we decided on two projects! Project 1: Renovate the church cemetery.  Project 2: Put on an event for the whole community – An Evening Through The Ages; a fun filled night for all ages, with the aim to bring the community together whilst enjoying some bingo, quizzes, rock’n’roll and more.

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 Amidst multiple brain storms, the peg challenge*, delegating job roles, phone calls for event venues, spider’s nests, plenty of weed pulling, staged mentor fall outs, Coalville Conga lines, lots of sweets, jet wash pursuits, cake sales and general “Chando’s, Top Lad Bants” came my unexpected highlight of the week / NCS Magic Moment (3 blogs in and I still don’t know what to call it). It was Wednesday afternoon nearing the end of the first day of renovation. The team had been working hard since 9:00am, transforming the jungle like cemetery into something which half resembled a pleasant resting place for “the residents” (some of which had been resting since 1800s!); when a lady wondered into the church grounds, wheeling a suitcase behind her and took a seat on the bench. Without thinking too much about it, I acknowledged her and carried on doing whatever it was I was doing. A few minutes had passed when two of the Chando’s girls came to tell me she was looking for somewhere to stay… she was homeless.

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The Magic of NCS #Week 2

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Based at Leicester University, the second week of NCS threw a new heap of challenges at the Young People, differing from the physical based outdoor activities of week 1 at PGL. The harnesses, helmets and heights were swapped for lecture rooms, guest speakers and presentations; with the focus of the week being to give the teens a little academic stimulation, a taster of University life and to introduce the Social Action Project (SAP) which take part during week’s 3 and 4.

The group’s were lucky to be spoken to by a successful 17 year old business owner who helped to judge a Dragon’s Den style business pitch from each group; University staff presented a seminar on budgeting for students, followed by a future career self assessment; and lastly a handful of local charities spoke to raise awareness of their work and to inspire the teens into getting involved.

That was just a whistle stop tour of week 2, but the idea of these NCS blogs are to highlight the magic of the programme (hence the title), to give my opinion as to why this is such a rewarding scheme for me as a mentor, but most importantly for the 15-17 year olds who commit 4 weeks of their summer to saying “Yes to NCS”.

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The Magic of NCS #Week1

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I have been lucky enough to get back involved with the summer development program that is NCS again this year! My role once more is to mentor a group of 15 teenagers ages 15-17 through a 4 week summer camp with the aim to help the young people develop personal skills, group skills, confidence and self belief whilst ensuring they have heaps of fun and good times.. 🙂 It really is an amazing program, with the growth and transformation of the teens happening quite literally in front of your eyes, it is a special thing.

There are 100+ young people on our cohort, 20 mentors, 2 mentors per group and around 10 groups. Kids from all walks of life are enrolled, different backgrounds, interests, hobbies, sporting / academic abilities and music tastes. Such a diverse mix of people, but it is this which provides the magic, breaks down stereotypes and allows people to interact with people whom they wouldn’t usually and actually learn that no matter race, clothing style or interests, we can all get on. The group I have (Team name: Chando’s ((Cheeky Nando’s)) are nearly all from the same school, but are in different friendship groups, some had never spoken to each other before. To give you a taste of the differences in the group, I have asked them all to send me their 1) Favorite all time song, 2) Favorite song at the moment 3) A song which brings back a happy memory.. I have had Marvin Gaye, Metallica, Chris Brown, Toy Story, Avicii and Linkin Park to name a few; yet despite the contrast in their musical taste they have all been able to gel as a group and we are definitely on our way to becoming a nicely tight knit NCS family.

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#OlympicDay

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I was looking through my pictures for a Twitter upload for #TrackTuesday and saw one of Sally Pearson, side view, ahead of the pack, mid-flight over the hurdle; AKA a great action shot! I tagged her in the upload and within seconds she had added it to her favourites, ha I was buzzing. THEN I saw the same picture on my timeline, posted by Sally Pearson herself. First of all I thought: “Wait, how are you gonna use that picture I just tagged you in without a shout out to @_JFairclough_ ?!”, but I let it slide as I didn’t want to “start beef” with an Olympic champion, I’m no keyboard warrior. But thanks to her post, I saw it was #OlympicDay which took me back to August 11th, the last day of the 2012 Olympics where I was lucky enough to be sat in the Olympic stadium in Seat: 730, Row: 61, Block: 226, just to be precise.

With a focus on the atmosphere, support and unity in the stadium, this is my #OlympicDay memory.

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A little look back…

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I believe it is important to reflect on events and years of your life to be able to develop as an individual, understand yourself and tell others of your experiences too, and so, because I finished University about a week ago, week ago, yes that’s a Bobby Shmurda reference yo, reference yo (sorry,  I couldn’t resist) I have had a little look back over my three years as a student and am using this blog as an opportunity for me to share with you the two outstanding “life lessons” I found during my three years studying; so whether you are a student, enrolling in September, starting a new job or whatever, hopefully you can take something away from the next two points.

1) WORK HARD or IT’S HARD WORK

This is the best bit of advice I can give any student willing to do well. Plain and simply, work hard at getting your work done when it is supposed to get done. Don’t put work off, it will build up, it will be stressful and it will do your head in and it will become hard work, when you’re either playing catch up or are struggling in exams or with coursework.

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Cake Time

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{that is not my 18th birthday cake, I admittedly found it on Google but I couldn’t not use it.. it looks like me and has my name on it and everything}

Cake time! *insert little sly smirk smiley emoji face here*. Cake time, who doesn’t like cake time? (Not that Rihanna- cake cake cake), I’m talking about that soft textured, middle section oozing jam and cream, sprinkled with icing sugar, cake; that chocolate layer with the wave like ripples on top, cake; that simple slice of cake with the perfect moist texture, cake… Or am I? Not exactly. The cake I am referring to is the athletics track season cake. Right now you have absolutely no idea what I mean by this, but by the end of this we will all be on the same page, you’ll see how I see things and hopefully, possibly, maybe one of you will adopt this cake analogy mind set and apply it to your lives..

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Ready to go, ready to depart.

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Belly “full” of Ryan Air- Mild Curry Cup’a’noodle to go, bladder empty from a near straight 60 second wee, at 35,000 ft I can now comfortably begin a reflection of what has been a very productive week of warm weather training (#wwt for you hashtaggers) in Monte Gordo, Portugal.

The aim of the week was simply to prepare for the outdoor track season and get race ready. One week of focused training without the stresses and distractions of day to day university life. One week of getting to the track fresh and ready to go; not tired, stiff or rushed after a day of lectures, revision or coursework. One week of quality training with the mind and body focused purely on the task in hand. A week of full warm-ups, cool downs, rolling, stretching, treatment, cold pools and recovery. One week of the advantages of higher temperatures, faster speeds and lower injury risks. I have to say it has worked; I feel race ready.


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