Eighty students from twenty different schools across England came together on the 5th May for the mid-point event of this year's AQA Unlocking Potential programme. Despite not being able to meet in person, we were delighted to host the event virtually with our Athlete Manager Adam Whitehead leading the event over Zoom.

The day kicked off with an introductory session led by Adam, setting the scene for all the students, teachers, AQA volunteers and members of the Trust team who were on the call. To get everyone energised for the day, Adam set everyone off on a treasure hunt to bring back seven random items including a size eight shoe, a musical instrument and a yoyo! Due to COVID restrictions, ingenuity was the order of the day for some teams and bonus points went to the team who constructed a yoyo out of a Jammy Dodger and part of an old face mask!

Following the intro session, the group broke up into smaller breakout sessions with three or four schools per group. Here the athlete mentors took them through a session all about delivering a 30 second elevator pitch about yourself. What would you say to the boss of the company about why you should have that dream job when you just have just 30 seconds in a lift together? For many students, this was the first time they'd done something like this, especially down a Zoom line to someone sitting in a completely different town or city!

This exercise set them up well for the early afternoon session where they delivered their Dragons Den pitches. Each school has to deliver a social action project, tackling any social issue they wish, as long as there is a community need and that they use sport or physical activity to tackle it. Students delivered their pitch to the AQA volunteers, athletes and staff members who made up the Dragons Den panel who them asked questions, gave feedback and gave the all important funding to allow the projects to take place. Here's just a small snapshot of some of the upcoming projects:

The social action project idea for Chessington School is to do a cook off at their school which will be judged. All of the food will be given to families who need it the most at their school. They will also use the £50 budget to do care packages as well as produce leaflets with signposting for further support beyond food donations. They will work with Food Kitchen and the Food Basket charity to help make this happen.

Kirkby Kendal High school's project is to support a couple of homeless charities in the local area. They plan to produce a video to ask each person in the school to donate canned foods and warm clothing.

West Kirkby are planning a beach clean, putting up posters to get people to clean up after themselves and getting the rest of the school involved.

Pupils at West Exe are producing videos promoting ways to good well-being by sharing their own case studies on ‘What I do to look after myself’. Videos are to be shown in assembly showcasing how to maintain positive wellbeing. The pupils will task the rest of the school with creating goals themselves around the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’.

The AQA Unlocking Potential programme continues now with athletes delivering further sessions in the schools, helping students increase their confidence, self-belief and motivation as well as delivering their social action projects. The programme will culminate in a celebration event on July 6th, hopefully at an exclusive venue in London.