This week my daughter, received an Achiever Award from the Jack Petchey Foundation. Until three months ago I had never heard of the foundation and when I asked my daughter's Guide Leader who was responsible for nominating her, she looked aghast and said simply "Google it!" Having now familiarised myself with the Foundation I feel somewhat ashamed that I had not heard of it before and feel compelled to add my voice to spreading the word further. So if young people feature in your life please read on.
The brainchild of Jack Petchey, an entrepreneur from East London, the Foundation was established 15 years ago and since then has invested a staggering £100 million in young people and organisations throughout London and Essex, with a wide range of grant-making, both small and large. The range of programmes the Foundation invests in is exhaustive and includes a centre for entrepreneurship in East London and an Academy.
"If you think you can, you can" is the Foundation's motto. The intention is to instill self-belief into young people and to encourage them to go on to achieve their full potential. Jack's view is that nothing is out of reach and that by rewarding young people's success and making them feel good about themselves they can go on to achieve great things.
The Guides are one of the many 1000's of youth organisations who have benefited from the Foundation's support and it was through her involvement with the Guides my daughter received her award. So what are the Achievement Awards? Well to receive one you first need to be nominated by a school or a youth organisation. The nominee is selected by their peers for doing something exceptional or outstanding. In my daughter's case she was selected by her fellow Guides for being a dedicated Patrol Group Leader, committed to helping and inspiring others by taking an active part in the Group.
Forgive me for blowing her trumpet, but sitting at the presentation ceremony and not only watching her receive her award from the local Mayor but listening to why her peers thought her worthy, made me swell with pride....along with all the other parents in the room.
As a parent I am always looking for new opportunities for my children to be involved in things in our local community as well as at school. I think it is healthy for them to mix with as many different people as possible and to be able to share in a range of experiences.
Girlguiding is something I feel passionately about. I was one myself and loved every minute of it and so have always been keen for daughter to reap the rewards too. Girlguiding enables the girls to come together safely to make friends and learn valuable life skills. It gives girls confidence and last night I felt glad that she continues to go every week, regardless of how tired she is after school. It has helped her to develop as a person and given her the chance to give something back.
The final word, however, goes to Sir Jack Petchey, knighted this week. What a remarkable man. The world needs more people like him.