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NCS SUMMER 2016 – Social action Weeks
A-Team Blog - week one
This week we (The A-Team) started our first week of social action. We had 3 ideas on the table at the start of the week for our project including; mental health, environmental issues and homelessness.
We spent most of our first day trying to decide which topic to cover. After much discussion and debate, we opted to try and do something to raise awareness about youth mental health, and to try and reduce the stigma around mental health. Our group decided to start by carrying out a survey with young people to gather their views on mental health so that we could ensure our campaign met their needs. We
constructed our survey on Google and shared it with our friends and contacts on social media, we also went to Newcastle city centre and carried out face to face consultation with random members of the public. Over 340 people completed our questionnaire in total - which we are so proud of! We all felt so nervous approaching random strangers, but out of the whole team of 12 people 7 of us would feel more confident after doing it and felt that it is something we could do again. Some of us had to deal with a challenging member of the public too, but we had put a plan in place so we could signal to our youth worker if someone was upsetting or intimidating us. It worked really well, and she was straight there when it got challenging. This taught us how important it is to plan and risk assess your activities, and that it is important to look out for one another.
We have spent the rest of this week researching mental health to help inform our campaign. We are hoping to produce a leaflet and wristband campaign, which can be used in schools, with us potentially producing assembly and teaching packs that can be used by teachers and youth workers across Northumberland. Our group have other ideas to, including creating a you tube video and a hashtag, but we will have to see how our project develops over the next week to see if we have time to put all of our ideas into fruition.
The NCS opportunity continues to be such a positive experience for us all. We are still working so well together as a team. We feel we have learnt so much about good team dynamics and can see how this will massively benefit us when we start our careers in the future.
Our highlight for this week has been cooking our 3 course meal. This is one of the missions we have to complete for our Northumberland Challenge (which is an extra project attached to NCS when you go on programme with Northumberland Youth Service). It was great taking responsibility for cooking for a large group. We made sure everyone contributed to deciding on the menu and preparing the meal. We were so organised and even made our starter and components for our main the day before. Our menu included: leek and potato soup; pizza with various toppings and to finish brownies and ice cream. We prepared virtually everything from scratch including our pizza dough, tomato sauce and garlic mayo. It was so nice to sit down and enjoy a meal we had prepared together. Our new friendships are one of the best things to come out of NCS - so to have a meal together was great treat this week.
We are so excited for next week when we get to start making a real difference. We are looking forward to working with an artist to help put our ideas together and start producing some useable resources aimed at tackling youth mental health. Making a difference to others is an important thing for us all – the fact it is possible to make a difference all started because we said YES to NCS!
A-Team Blog - week two
This week we (The A-Team) completed our final week on our NCS journey – Social Action week two. We have spent this last week producing resources that we hope will help to raise awareness about youth mental health so that we can reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health and encourage young people to look after themselves as a way of promoting positive mental health. In addition to raising awareness, we also wanted to do some fundraising for a mental health charity (we opted to complete a sponsored walk to raise funds for MIND).
This week has been a very hands on experience; we have all been actively involved in pushing our mental health awareness campaign forward. We have been contacting our local councillors via phone and email in an attempt to generate funds for our project, we have worked with an artist to design a leaflet, produced a teaching pack that can be adapted to make an assembly slideshow, designed a wristband, created a YouTube video, and organised and took part in a sponsored walk.
We all feel so proud of the things we have achieved- especially the products we have produced. The leaflet already looks so professional and we still have some finishing touches to organise with the artist. It has been so enjoyable getting everyone to contribute to the process of creating our campaign and seeing it all come together to produce such great products.
Our sponsored walk was a real highlight this week. It was great to get out and about and do something fun to raise money for charity. We walked from Newburn Leisure Centre to Prudhoe and then back again. So far we have raised £140 for MIND and we still have some more money to collect in. We are so happy we got to give back to a great charity. Not only have we raised funds but also our campaign will hopefully positively affect our community by raising awareness of the mental health issues young people face, as well as reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health in general.
We have all learnt a great deal about mental health. This knowledge, which is not only important for us individually, will allow us to carry forward our message and continue to promote discussing mental health in a positive way so that we will forever go on reducing stigma. I think some of us have even changed how we view life as a whole because of this experience; by that we mean less judgemental, more willing to talk to new people without fear, which makes for better interactions with others in general. We also approach things with far more positivity now - we now realise we can do anything if we put our minds to it!
Doing NCS has benefited us all in so many individual ways, however we all agree that one of the best things to come out of it is making so many new friends and growing in confidence. We have just created our own health campaign, I’m not sure any of us thought we would achieve that on day one! We are so sad our NCS journey is coming to an end, but we look forward to taking part in our celebration event in September.
We are not sure any of us truly believed it when people said NCS would change our lives. I don’t think any of us thought we would come here and get so emotionally attached, I think we just thought it would help us in the future and we would enjoy the activities and make some new friends.
Now we will be saying NCS can really change your life and it will be us they won’t believe – I guess you have to experience NCS to ‘get it’ – but they won’t believe that either! Unless they do it for themselves…and to think, it all started with YES!
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