Students from secondary schools in Crawley and Gatwick learnt how to be role models for younger students as part of an on-going programme to improve their confidence and life chances

Picture 3 Crawley Gatwick Hero TrainingThe students who are aged between 13 and 14 are taking part in the inspirational Be the Change programme. Participants were taken by surprise when they were joined by younger children from local primary schools for the Hero Training session which was held at the Arora Hotel on Thursday, January 19.

Facilitated by and social enterprise humanutopia, along with mentors from local businesses and the public sector, Be the Change helps young people fulfil their potential and improve their life chances. It focuses on happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability by identifying and removing barriers to success and raising aspirations. Over the course of the school year the students work with business volunteers at day long events, one-to-one mentoring sessions and workplace visits.

humanutopia’s founders, Carlo Missirian and Graham Moore, both former teachers who understand the challenges facing young people today, led the hero training event. Graham said: “Our vision is for every young person to have raised hope and confidence, to have the chance to develop life skills and create positive cycles that will prepare them for life.

“Working with the younger children brings out the “hero” or role model in our students. It promotes qualities such as leadership, team working and a sense of responsibility to those around them, especially younger and more vulnerable people. This activity also offers a great chance for the younger students to develop their confidence and experience of being around secondary school students in preparation for moving into higher education.”

The secondary schools involved in the programme are: Ifield Community College, Hazelwick School, Holy Trinity Church of England Secondary School, St Wilfrid’s Catholic School and Thomas Bennett Community College. The primary schools taking part in the hero training activity are Gossops Green, Southgate and Waterfield.

Carole Law, Assistant Head Teacher at Thomas Bennett Community College, said: ”I feel that the students have grown in confidence and become more self-aware of the consequences of their choices and behavior on themselves and others. Just keep doing what you are doing!”

Picture 1 Crawley Gatwick hero trainingThe idea for Be the Change came from Gary Peters, Founder of He said: “Year 9 is when young people make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives – from where they fit within their peer groups, to what subjects they will study at GCSE. The Be the Change programme helps them to recognise and build on their strengths and gives them the tools and confidence to make the right decisions. We’ve seen outstanding results from all the programmes that we’ve run in other parts of the country and believe that the experience for the students taking part in Crawley and Gatwick will be long-lasting and profound.”

Be the Change Crawley and Gatwick is a collaboration between and humanutopia with support from Crawley Borough Council, The Careers & Enterprise Company, West Sussex County Council, Arora Hotel Gatwick/Crawley, NatWest, Southern Water, Gatwick Airport, the Crawley Observer and other local businesses.

Wendy Fitton, from Arora Hotel, said: “There has been so much positive feedback about the changes the students have made since the launch! Seeing the students work with the younger children this afternoon really was something to behold. So many of them stepped up to the plate and became fantastic role models. We are really proud to be supporting Be the Change, both as venue sponsors and business guides.”