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Connor’s HeadStart

10 December 2014

Young people learned to recruit staff, rate commissioning contracts, award funds and more, so they can help shape every aspect of HeadStart Blackpool. Fifteen year old Connor, shares his experience in residential training with the Young People’s Steering Group…


Connor and two other young people in onsies

Connor (centre) chilling in his onesie!

Day one:

​We arrived at Crowden Outdoor Education Centre in Derbyshire just in time for lunch. I wasn’t too nervous because we had all met before, but I was excited to be away in a new place and learning new things.

First of all we did a session on pack types, which helped us identify the type of dog we are based on our characteristics, traits and personalities. I was a ‘coach-dog’ which means I help others and support them. I was pleased I came out as this because I do like to help others.

After a session on recruitment and selection, we had a quiz, which got competitive as the young people tried to beat the staff team. We had a bonus point challenge to build the best tower from marshmallows and spaghetti sticks — not easy when your team keeps eating the sweets! It had been a long day so I was glad to get to bed.


Day two:

Everyone was up for a full English at 8.30. We spent the morning playing team games including trying to make a chair out of balloons. We then had to think how we would evaluate these games, learning about open and closed questions and their advantages and disadvantages. We talked about how we can carry this on with staff. I really like workshops where we reflect and can learn from experiences.

Before lunch we did a session on budgeting and commissioning (more exciting than it sounds).  The decision-making power was good, but it was hard to make the right choices, as there were so many people to think about. I can’t wait to do this in ‘real-life’ for HeadStart Blackpool.

After lunch we went raft building. I have a lot of outdoor experience because I am doing my Duke of Edinburgh Award, so knew what to expect. But some people really had to challenge themselves to conquer their fears.  I enjoyed the challenge mostly because the water was freezing and the better the raft, the less chance of us getting wet!

Excitement grew after dinner as everyone pulled out their onesies for our onesie and chill party. I was Spyro the dragon, the video game character, in a bright purple onesie with a tail. There were sheep, ghosts, Star Wars characters and a couple of Minnie Mouses. After intense debate, we settled on Frozen for our movie. I am a secret Frozen fan so was happy but I made myself feel sick with the amount of popcorn I ate!


The HeadStart trainees at the Crowden Outdoor Education Centre in Derbyshire

The HeadStart trainees at the Crowden Outdoor Education Centre in Derbyshire

Day three:

We couldn’t resist scaling the huge hill that stands over the centre. So we had an early climb to take in the brilliant views. After posing for selfies, we headed back for breakfast.

We spent the morning planning the best ways to involve young people in evaluating the services they receive. We discussed the pros and cons of 1-2-1 interviews, questionnaires, small meetings, through to conferences. We talked about issues such as confidentiality and being sensitive to young people’s needs.

Before we left, we cleaned the centre from top to bottom (there were lots of sweet wrappers). Then we had to write a positive comment about everyone in the group. They were sealed in an envelope and should have been kept until we were home, but there were lots of sneaky looks on the bus. I was so chuffed with the comments I got. People see me as funny, nice and caring. One said ‘pain in the bum’ and ‘a smiley face!’ I am still trying to figure out which youth worker gave me that one!!

It was a brilliant three days, everyone joined in and worked together. The staff were helpful and friendly and the activities were cool. We all learnt loads. We are excited about the next few weeks with new staff joining and HeadStart contracts being discussed.


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Also check out the other Fulfilling Lives: Head Start projects

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