So here’s the thing, I’m mum to 2 teenagers age 13 and 17, and when you scroll through the back pages of Mum in a Nutshell, it’s soon become apparent that I’ve navigated the teenage years on a wing and a prayer rather than cruise happily. It’s a little like raising a giant, hairy toddler which pays you back with grunts of appreciation rather than those big, sloppy I love you’s which toddlers give out so freely. And those grunts are sometimes a little hard to gauge whether you’re getting it right or not. I’m 5 years in and still not sure if I’m getting it right or not.
Then there’s that other thing, the whole single mum thing, fretting about her boys not having a regular and accessible role model to guide her precious cargo in the right direction. I dearly hope I’m painting a positive work ethic to my kiddos but with social media being the key influencer in their lives, there are moments when I worry over how they’re being prepared for the big wide world.
So you can kinda see how I’m all for the government-backed National Citizen Service programme which aims to
help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.
I’m relatively new to this but after spending some time on their website I can really see how this would have a really positive effect on my teenagers.
It’s is open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland running as a two to four-week programme, which takes place in school holidays. Activities include outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.
Their key message is that at a time of huge political uncertainty, where division is more evident than togetherness, NCS is a powerful tool to ensure the next generation see more in their similarities than differences. I live in a small village in Devon, btw, where division is much more small scale and there’s less opportunity for my boys to experience it first hand. I’m won over by the ethos of togetherness alone as a preparation for the day my boys head off to university.
In a nutshell, the programme:
- Puts young people through a series of challenging activities to take them out of their comfort zones and develop their strength of character
- Provides a progressive journey that hands over more responsibility to young people as the programme progresses and develops leadership skills necessary to succeed in the workplace
- Enables young people to connect with their communities through social action.
- Almost 400,000 young people have taken part
- More than seven million hours of community action have been completed
- For every £1 spent, NCS’ 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society
The whole experience, including food, accommodation and travel costs is only £50 (bursaries are available on a case by case basis and support is also provided for young people with additional needs.)
My only stumbling block would be getting my teens to sign up, peer pressure is huge for them and I can guarantee it’ll take a lot of persuading to get them to do this alone but that’s where a rite of passage for all collective message in your community would work amazingly, safety in numbers and all that.
I’ll be having a chat with my 17 year old this week and suggesting he puts the feelers out to his friends and I’d love for you to help me spread the word. If you have a year 11 child there’s still time to sign up for this once in a lifetime experience this summer where they’ll have fun while building their confidence, making new friends and learning life skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.
Just register your interest and signing up for further information, no matter what your commitments or summer holiday plans this year, as NCS will endeavour to get them a spot on a programme at a time that suits.
I’m already looking ahead a couple of years for my younger teen.
This is a collaborative post with NCS