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  • Writer's pictureBeth Nunn

Reflections on an Incredible Journey: My Time at Pursuing Individual Excellence, from Caroline

As my time at PIE draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the incredible experiences and memories I've had since January 2020. Working with amazing schools, colleges, and communities, I've had the privilege of witnessing the positive impact PIE has made on young people's lives.

Throughout my tenure at PIE, I've had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of schools and colleges, stitching together various programs that empowered young minds. I started at Connell College, I completed two years on the Future Ready programme, including being rudely interrupted by the challenges of COVID-19. We quickly adapted, moving online and then back to the classroom when we could, ensuring the students received the support they needed. The Summer of Social Action program was an awesome showcase of youth-led initiatives that sparked positive change. It was inspiring to witness young people taking the lead and making a real difference in their communities through social action.

Whilst at Walkden Academy, I embarked on the Future Ready program, creating opportunities for students to develop essential life skills. The impact we made in empowering these young individuals was truly rewarding.

At Hyde High School and Rayner Stephens, I had the pleasure of working on the Into the Mix program, not once but twice! The program brought diverse groups together, fostering understanding and collaboration through peer mentorship and then social action. Watching them grow in confidence as peer mentors and then plan, prepare, budget and carry out a transition day for over 70 year 6’s was fantastic. Seeing that programme come to a conclusion at MMU last December was just fantastic – bringing all those students and industry professionals together and then watching the young people we had worked with present their social action projects in a huge lecture theatre was just brilliant!

Unity High School in Blackpool welcomed me this academic year to run the Future Ready program with Year 10 students, both boys and girls. Watching them grow and gain confidence has been an incredible journey as I had the freedom there to run the program over a longer period of time.

The Positivity PIE program at Harrytown High in Stockport and COOP Academy Leeds provided a safe space for Year 9 girls to express themselves and build self-esteem. Witnessing their transformation has been truly heartwarming.

One of the most memorable experiences and first working in the community was working with a group of remarkable young community leaders at Startpoint cafe in Woodley. Together, we passed our community leaders qualification and then they went on to organise activities to bring people of all ages together through the joy of planting, painting pots, and even hosting a fun-filled day of board games. Some of these incredible individuals now work with us at PIE, a testament to the growth and opportunities we foster.

Contributing to the HAF program at Marple Guide Hut during school holidays and engaging in local outings was a true delight. Witnessing the joy and excitement on the faces of young participants was a reminder of the impact we can have in creating meaningful experiences ensuring young people had fun and stayed engaged during school holidays.

The Stockport Council funded Step Up transition project was another unique challenge as we had to adapt to an online format due to the pandemic. However, we persevered and successfully completed the program in person, supporting young people through a crucial phase in their lives.

Creating Safe Spaces and Making Music: Working with a small group of young people with SEND has been an absolute joy. Lee and I created a safe space where they could express themselves through music, games, and forming connections with other young people. These moments of shared laughter and camaraderie will forever hold a special place in my heart.

None of these incredible experiences would have been possible without the unwavering support of the dedicated staff in schools, colleges, and community spaces. I express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of them for their collaboration and belief in the programs we implemented.

A special shoutout goes to the remarkable PIE team. To Anna, who tirelessly organised everything, no matter how last minute I might be, and to Gemma, who kept me grounded during the HAF program and is a much bigger support than she gives herself credit for in schools too, thank you for your support and friendship.

Lastly, my heartfelt gratitude goes to Beth, the CEO of PIE, for entrusting me with these incredible opportunities. Your vision and dedication have inspired me and countless others. I am truly grateful for the chance to work with you and the PIE team, and I have no doubt that PIE will continue to make a profound difference in the lives of many.

As I bid farewell to my time at Pursuing Individual Excellence, I leave with a heart full of joy and memories that will stay with me forever. The young people I had the privilege of working with have left an indelible mark on my journey. To the new person stepping into this role, I wish you every success and hope that you find as much joy and fulfilment as I have. Thank you, PIE, for the memories, the growth, and the chance to make a difference. It's been an unforgettable journey. Keep spreading kindness, empowering young minds, and pursuing individual excellence.

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