70 students from more than 20 schools along with teachers, athlete mentors and Dame Kelly Holmes descended on the QEII Centre in Westminster on Thursday 12th July to celebrate their achievements on the 2018 AQA Unlocking Potential programme.

AQA Unlocking Potential is a mentoring programme for young people aged 14 to 19 who have faced personal challenges or disadvantages. The programme is delivered in partnership with AQA using Dame Kelly Holmes Trust's specially trained athlete mentors who competed at world-class sporting events - including the Olympics and Paralympics - and who have often overcome their own significant personal challenges.

The celebration event marks the end of the programme and allows the participants to meet students from other schools, share stories about their journeys and to receive a certificate and Amazon voucher from Dame Kelly Holmes.


Students receiving certificates from Dame Kelly Holmes and Toby Salt from AQA

Over the last eight months, the selected students have been working with amazing athlete mentors from the Dame Kelly Holmes trust to help unlock hidden attributes and skills. As part of the programme all students had to deliver a social action project to help people in their community. These included raising awareness of mental health issues, helping the homeless and collecting for food banks, fundraising events for various good causes and lots of sporting events to get more young people active and engaged in sport.

Dame Kelly Holmes, Double Gold Olympian and founder of Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, said:

AQA Unlocking Potential is not aimed at developing the potential of future sports stars, but is targeting young people facing disadvantage to help raise self-esteem, confidence and aspirations. Today is about celebrating their achievements.

Listening to the journey these young people have been on is truly inspiring and they should all be really proud of what they’ve achieved. The athlete mentors know what it takes to overcome adversity and have the will to succeed not only in sport, but in life too.

I really can’t believe that AQA Unlocking Potential is now in its seventh year; it’s a fantastic programme and every year students excel. To see more young people transformed through this life-changing programme is amazing!

Toby Salt, AQA’s Chief Executive, said:

AQA Unlocking Potential is an amazing programme and one that AQA is very pleased to be part of. Every year the young people taking part continue to amaze and impress us and it’s fantastic to see how far they have come over the last 8 months.

Most people see us as just an exam board, but our motto is ‘realising potential’ and that goes for all young people, not just those taking our exams.

This is where AQA Unlocking Potential really is very special - to be able to help these young people to truly realise their own potential is what AQA is all about.

The day was a wonderful celebration of the hard work the students have put in on the AQA Unlocking Potential over the last eight months and we look like to thank them all as well as their teachers and AQA volunteers for making the programme such a success year on year. You can see the journeys some of the young people took in our celebration video below:

Dame Kelly Holmes Trust would also like to extend an additional thank you to players of People's Postcode Lottery who enabled us to offer more spaces on the programme this year.