I’ve always been a very shy person. I wasn’t very confident and didn’t talk much in class, which was starting to affect my grades in school. I didn’t like speaking in front of anyone and I just liked to be by myself and not around many people.

So when I was paired up with athlete mentor Dilly Newton through the AQA Unlocking Potential programme, that’s when things changed for the better. At the beginning I felt out of my comfort zone, the thought of presenting an assembly in front of my entire school made me nervous. However, as the programme went on I became more confident in my abilities through gradually presenting to more and more people. By the time the final project came around I was talking to whole school assemblies and got used to speaking in front of big groups of people.

It was nice having Dilly there to support me along the way. She told me to believe in myself and to have and maintain a positive outlook on things. She also taught me to stand up for myself and to say what I wanted to express to others without fearing the worst. She pushed me in the right direction, if I didn’t get something she would put it in a different way so that I understood. I remember during my final Community Project when Dilly gave a speech about how she became an athlete and how she got there. It inspired and influenced me to think about who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do in the future and how I was going to get there. My Community Project involved me working with someone else and running an Olympic themed sports day.

At the end of the event the winning team got a trophy and everyone who participated got a medal and certificate. I felt very proud of myself and comfortable being in charge and running the event with someone else, we spoke to each other easily, got know each other and now we are friends.

Thanks to the programme I’ve gotten more confident in myself, I’m communicating more in class and I’m interested in lessons which has helped me with my learning and improved my grades. I’ve also volunteered for a lot more things and I’m nearly the captain of my school football team. Since finishing I’ve picked a GCSE in Child Development as I want to go into teaching children and I’m looking at colleges to pursue a future career as a social worker. I feel that there’s been a big change in me, I can now actually speak to a lot more people from different groups than I was use to before the programme came along. Being able to talk to my friends and family more about how I feel it has helped bring us closer together.

I really enjoyed the whole programme, it went really well. I’m now able to communicate and connect with a lot more people than ever before.