By Penny Snowden, CEO

 My name is Penny Snowden and I started Active Leaders in 2016 to help build my daughter’s confidence, as she was changing schools for 6th form.  The 13 weeks between the end of GCSEs and the start of the new term stretched ahead, with little available for her age to do. Holiday programmes were for younger children, residential or assessment based. Friends were heading to festivals or abroad. Sports clubs closed for the summer.

After exhausting all other avenues, the Active Leader programme was my response, with my daughter and 11 other young people aged 15-17 from diverse backgrounds, making up our first group. My simple purpose was to provide fun, friendship and activity, with hands on experience.

The response was overwhelming – I saw the young people’s confidence growing; they were getting stuck in, challenging themselves, showing amazing creativity and loved being active.

Over the course of just one week, they had gone beyond my own, and their expectations, gaining the confidence to lead others and learning life skills that would help them with whatever they chose to do next. As I had linked the group to a local holiday camp provider, he was sufficiently impressed to offer paid work for everyone who attended. 

News spread and as interest from parents, young people and education providers grew, we ran more and more courses. I realised the opportunity existed to provide quality, practical training, with follow on employability experience, both in education and out of school settings. Our first group of Active Leaders came up with the phrase ‘Leadership and Employability through Activity’ which has remained our strapline. 

We have adapted our original course for different age groups including for university and apprenticeship programmes, going virtual in 2020 to continue through the pandemic, and our Junior Active Leader course for primary school age children has proved to be a vital tool in helping children settle back to school. We have tracked the progress of some of those we trained on our early courses and their amazing stories appear on our testimonials page, together with comments from teachers, parents and funding partners. Active Leaders is now a nationally certified CPD scheme, accredited by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).

Our aim is to support young people through key transitions in their lives, with relevant, useful, quality training and experience. We are practical, flexible and want to give everyone the chance to join in. I am fortunate to work with a passionate, energetic team who have been instrumental in developing the Active Leader opportunity. I should also report that my daughter is now a primary school teacher – successfully completing transitions between school, university and the workplace with extraordinary resilience and confidence.