We are currently taking on Stage 2 of the Virgin Strive Challenge, hiking our way across Corsica. It has been a tough but thoroughly enjoyable start to the challenge, cycling and kayaking across Sardinia, and it has been wonderful supporting each other along the way. Muscles that we didn’t even know we had are sore and we have four stages left to go!
We’re doing the challenge to raise money for Big Change, the charity founded by Holly and Sam, to fund up to 10 new projects that are helping set young people up to thrive in life, not just exams. I’ve long believed that prevention is better than treating symptoms; it’s far easier to build stronger children than it is to fix broken adults.
We’ve been having fascinating discussions over dinner after we’ve finished Striving for the day. One of the areas Big Change focus on is exclusion from schools – it’s often the most vulnerable children that get excluded from school, rather than supported. Once excluded, children are more likely to go on to be unemployed, develop severe mental health problems and go to prison. It costs the country billions.
The statistics are truly staggering to hear – once excluded only one per cent go on to get five GCSES and one in every two prisoners were excluded.
Big Change wants to try and break this cycle. The Difference is pioneering this change with a two-year programme that trains teachers to deal with severe behavioural issues and support mental health – aiming to reduce pupil exclusion.
It makes it much easier to keep pushing our bodies and minds when we know every turn of the peddles or paddle is going to make a difference to help support young people.