Suffolk students overcame challenges with help by Olympian’s athlete mentoring programme

Celebrating the completion of the Unlocking Potential progreamme, l-r, AQA chief executive Toby Salt

Celebrating the completion of the Unlocking Potential progreamme, l-r, AQA chief executive Toby Salt,athlete mentor Suzanne Millar, East Bergholt High School students Becky and Yasmin and Dame Kelly Holmes Picture: AQA - Credit: AQA

Suffolk students have celebrated completing an athletic mentoring programme, devised with Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes, to help young people overcome significant personal challenges.

Becky and Yasmin, who attend East Bergholt High School, spent the last eight months working with athlete Suzanne Millar, from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, as part of the AQA Unlocking Potential programme.

The scheme, which is aimed at unlocking young people’s hidden attributes and skills, saw the pair deliver a social action project to raise awareness of autism – a cause close to Yasmin’s heart.

Teacher Emma Barnes, who nominated the girls for the programme, said: “It’s been great to see Becky and Yasmin grow throughout the programme and they had a great mentor in Suzanne, who was brilliant.

“They found the courage to present their social action project to a Dragons’ Den-style panel and Becky overcame her anxieties when delivering the presentation to her year group. They both did a fantastic job.”

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Having completed the eight-month programme, the students attended a celebration at the QEII Centre in Westminster, where leading figures from the programme, including Dame Kelly, were in attendance.

Dame Kelly 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.

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“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.”

Toby Salt, chief executive of AQA, said he had been “amazed and impressed” by the young people’s progress.

“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.”

He added: “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.”

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