Why Active leaders exists

Generation Z – or the ‘screen generation’ as they are sometimes known – have grown up online. Swiping a screen is as natural to them as swimming, running or throwing. This is wonderful, but it can come with significant downsides.

Inactivity, insularity and, all too often, anxiety may result from growing up inside, online and connected 24/7. GCSE studies often see physical activity (but not screens) abandoned when revision and exams start to bite, meaning there is no release from academic pressures.

I set up Active Leaders in an effort to rebalance life post GCSEs for my Generation Z daughter and her friends. I wanted to offer them a non-competitive, screen-free way back into sport and the chance to see it from a different angle. By learning how to become activity and event assistants, working with children for hands on experience, I felt they could develop valuable skills for life, grow in confidence and get to know people they might meet at their next school/college. I was hoping this would be fun yet purposeful and socially (not technologically) interactive. Importantly, there would be no pass/fail.

I began to realise that Active Leaders could also address an employability issue. Employers need young people with strong soft skills. They need to have faith that young people can deal with customers, or take ownership of responsibility and have energy for the demands of the workplace. Ideally, they need evidence of an applicant’s abilities. My own experience as an SME employer is that work experience is hard to offer because it costs time and manpower. It is much easier to derive mutual benefit if a student is well prepared.

So Active Leaders has developed with a dual purpose. As well as encouraging participants to be active and teaching them how to lead, communicate and own responsibility, we prepare them for the workplace. We show them the relevance of the skills they have acquired and aim to give them confidence to access and make the most of opportunities. A growing network of pathway partners is developing, who recognise the Active Leader training and are prepared to offer follow on work experience.

We have worked with teenagers who have a real aptitude for sport, as well as those who are shy, non-competitive and even “inactive”. We have welcomed those who have not enjoyed classroom learning, as well as those who will be some of our brilliant future scientists, doctors and teachers. Active Leaders is for all. It is not just affordable, it is straightforward and effective.

The results have been incredible. ‘Graduates’ have entered summer work and have performed exceptionally. Our first crop of Active Leaders is now applying to university, using the Active Leader experience on their UCAS applications.

Now, the course is growing across the country. We are working with schools and holiday camps, designing courses that are flexible to meet their objectives. These are just our first steps, I hope you can join us for what comes next.

Penny Snowden, Founder, Active Leaders