Thursday, 22 September 2011

Young People are our Future 2011

For the best part of 20 years, I have been developing and implementing personal safety and development courses for a wide spectrum of clients including the Army and Police personnel, Teachers and young people. Based in Milton Keynes, I together with my team of dedicated instructors have taught over 15,000 local women a personal safety course to tackle the negative affects of domestic violence.

Over the last few years my attention has turned to my biggest project to date:- Life Skills for Children (LSFC)

The Life Skills for Children (LSFC) course is a unique personal safety and development programme designed to educate young people from as young as 5 years in some practical, realistic and very simple skills to increase their safety, improve their communication skills and provide them with a key set of skills to become the best they can be.

The course has been taught to over 5,000 local children and is delivered as an early intervention initiative or for those young people who have in the past or who are currently demonstrating poor behaviour.

An outline of the course modules is below:
  • Understanding the affects of anti-social behaviour
  • The destructive qualities of our personalities
  • Identifying the reasons for my actions - All talk and NO action
  • Physical Team building - Ability to work within a team environment (Used within schools to activate kids into sport)
  • Positive qualities of your personality
  • Life Skills training – Take away the excuses of feeling unsafe
  • Awareness Skills - Identifying potentially dangerous situations
  • Weapon Avoidance training - How to assess and avoid a weapon confrontation
  • No excuse is big enough
  • Goal Setting for the future
  • Positive Key skills training
  • Developing a positive Life plan
  • Communication Skills - Ideal for all sport
  • Problem solving Skills                                                                                                                                                                                  
Life Skills have recently joined forces with a company called Reactiv8 ( who provide young people who fall under the category of NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) with the right life skills to place them into work placements and ultimately back into the education system so that they do not join the growing list of young people who are costing local communities millions of pounds through anti-social behaviour and worse.

Why the blog?

We have established a great working relationship with some local groups and individuals and as a result we are in the process of putting together a huge anti-bullying / life skills development event which will take place during the national anti-bullying week (14th - 18th November). LSFC will provide demonstrations and FREE workshops to local people at the event. As more and more attention has been given to LSFC due to the impressive results we have been getting with young people, a decision was made to use the event to capture as much local support as possible to approach central Government with the objective of providing a National deployment module.

The event will be a celebration of the great work that is being done in Milton Keynes to assist in the development of our young people. 
Jury's Inn situated in CMK has become the first sponsor for the event by providing the location where it will all happen.

Other interested groups in the event include MK Dons who are in a prime position to create awareness through their impressive database of supporters.

An event synopsis is below:

The Event Title:    Young People are our Future 
Event Date:         Monday 14th November (Start of National Anti-Bullying week)
Event Duration:    2 Hours (16:00 - 18:00)
Event Location:    Jury's Inn, MK

Main Activities:   

FREE Life Skills Development Workshop for Young People
FREE Life Skills Parenting Workshop
FREE Personal Safety Demonstrations
FREE Acting, Dancing, Singing Sessions
Guest Speakers - LSFC / Reactiv8 / Local Groups 
Entertainment - Local Music / Comedian etc
Children in Need FUND raising


To provide FREE training and awareness of local initiatives that are providing local young people and their families with realistic tools to tackle bullying and simple personal development skills.

Target Group:   

Young People
School Governors
Local Community Groups


Local Kids get FREE training to reduce the chance of them becoming a victim to bullying
Great Awareness and Support development 
Great PR for LOCAL schools, groups and individuals 
Great Networking Opportunity for local groups and schools
Great Marketing Opportunity for key groups in MK


LSFC, Reactiv8 and the Speakers will provide their support and time at no cost
Marketing the event will be driven through local schools, the council, Jury's Inn, Local Groups and Social Media

What Next ...
The Government is keen to push its Big Society concept through communities with the objective of real people doing great work locally coming together for a 
common cause to improve the lives of local people. 

We would like to discuss this event with individuals, groups and schools to ascertain the right people to make this event a major success.
Anti-Bullying week concludes on Children in Need day and a major focus for the event is to bring the community together to assist in raising money for local 

If you are in a position to:

- Volunteer to support this event
- Assist in the marketing of the event
- Influence lots of people through YOUR school / any group you belong to or social networking   
- Throw your voice behind a celebratory event that will highlight some of the good things that are happening locally for young people 
- Sponsor this event 

Please contact me on 07725 481769 to discuss this event further.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Training to beat Bullying: Inspiring Children with a Vision

Training to beat Bullying: Inspiring Children with a Vision: Several weeks ago I attended a secondary school and was inspired to put fingers on the keyboard to create this article. In my quest...

Inspiring Children with a Vision

Several weeks ago I attended a secondary school and was inspired to put fingers on the keyboard to create this article.
In my quest to deploy the Life Skills for Children course to as many young people as I can, I regularly meet teachers and their assistants that evoke a wide range of emotions from me. Unfortunately, most of these emotions are negative.
I am constantly questioning the reasons why some people have chosen the teaching profession to earn their living. 
As I entered the classroom to greet the group of young people that sat before me, I was pulled to one side and introduced to a teacher who would be assisting me in the delivery of the curriculum.
I paused for a moment to digest her name (Michelle) and then my brain started to work at pace to ascertain how I was going to adjust the Life Skills curriculum accordingly to accommodate an additional teacher who to my knowledge had no prior experience of the course content.
Upon asking Michelle if she had experienced any of the course material before, she gently smiled and replied in one word “No”
She then went onto explain that that group of young people in front of us both had all been assigned to her over the coming term and she was determined to create a positive relationship with them. 
What a breadth of fresh air. A teacher that realised that the most important ingredient to educating young people was to establish the right relationship from the start.
A little confused and only half convinced her statement was heartfelt, I proceeded to start the lesson and introduce my new colleague.
I decided to provide a platform for Michelle to speak about herself so that she could create the groups first impression.
I remember the exact words she used because silence fell across the classroom when they came out of her mouth.
Good morning, Over the next few sessions I am going to get to know you, enjoy your company and together we are going to create a vision of your future that we both can work towards.”
One of the more vocal students amongst the group felt the need to utter some immature comments towards the front of the classroom. Before I could respond, Michelle had absorbed the comments, smiled and dissolved the negativity of what was said by going and sitting right next to him. 

Without confrontation, his comments had backfired as the rest of the group laughed in support of Michelle’s actions. 
At this point of the article it is relevant to note that the group of students within the course had all been identified as having serious behaviour issues which in many cases was likely to lead to permanent exclusion.
In light of this, Michelle had drawn the first of many victories I witnessed in just 4 hours of working together.
The curriculum for the first lesson involved getting the group to identify the reasons why they so disliked school and felt the need to be so disruptive.
This particular lesson within the course is normally a little hit and miss. It is not unusual to get a large percentage of the group refusing to participate in any of the written drills or open discussions. After all why would they want to expose the reasons for their negative behaviour when solutions might be found to stop giving them the excuses to carry on creating havoc.
As the lesson developed and several members of the group attempted to disrupt the class with silly comments, Michelle took the opportunity to build a better rapport with the group.
Without warning and breaking the lesson curriculum, Michelle decided to inform the group of details about her child hood, schools experiences, likes and dislikes and the poor qualifications she received in her final year of education.
The group was shell shocked and sat mouths open, eyes fixed as Michelle created an image in their minds of this out of control girl who thought school was boring and teachers hated her. 
She went onto say how her attitude at the time influenced the people she went around with outside of school and how smoking and drinking was something she regularly did on school premises.
You could see the group of students in front of her being taken on a roller coaster ride of emotion as many of them related to her experiences. Over the 15 minutes that followed, members of the group would ask questions to clarify in their minds what Michelle was saying. 
The tension and mild hostility that many members of the group had previously shown Michelle and to be fare show most of the other teachers was dissolving in front of me.
You could physically see the barriers many of the students have placed around them lifting for just enough time for them to be influenced by a vision.
By the time Michelle had finished painting a picture of her younger years, the group had moved onto more relevant questions such as “Why are you a teacher, if you hated school?” 
Michelle had the groups attention and used the small window of opportunity she had developed to install what changed her and how she developed a vision for her future.
She went on “Despite numerous people telling me to concentrate at school, be respectful and listen to your teachers, the moment that changed me was when the kids I used to hang around with who were much older than me had left school with no qualifications and spent every day out of work, drinking and smoking”.
I realised when speaking to them that their lives were seriously boring and they had nothing to look forward to. Some of them were getting into trouble with the Police and life was pretty rubbish.”
Michelle then acknowledged that she had no reasons for behaving the way she did, She came from a loving family, was given everything she wanted. She just thought she could get away with being bad.
I remember a couple of the group members looking at each other almost accepting that they to had no real reason for their poor behaviour. 
In just a few minutes, Michelle had entered the lives of this disruptive group of young people, acknowledged their poor behaviour, identified with them and gained an important window of opportunity to install a very powerful message.
One of the group members, a young girl named Sophie asked without doubt the most important question of the lesson. “What is this Vision you keep talking about?”
Michelle took this opportunity to tell the group that she had to return to college to improve her grades and in the process met a teacher that inspired her with vision.
He asked her to list down all of the wonderful things in life that she wanted to achieve, or visit or do. With a little help and nudging, Michelle said she had developed a long list of goals, which excited her and gave her a good reason to study and behave properly.
Michelle shared some of her goals list with the group and in the process collated their opinions and dreams to start creating their own list. 
Upon being asked why she became a teacher, she replied “up until the day when I met the teacher who taught me how to create my vision of my future I was lost. He made my life make sense, and I want to do the same for somebody else”
Needless to say the scheduled curriculum for the lesson was put back to the follow day, but what I witnessed in a short period of time was the secret to teaching.
Every day of my life I talk about the importance of building rapport with students in order to create the right learning atmosphere. Michelle had taken a hardened group, excepted their current mind set and approach to life, demonstrated that she was once in their shoes and more importantly demonstrated how one moment of inspiration changed her life. 
The remainder of the Life Skills for Children course was full of as many ups and downs as every other delivery, however the relationship with Michelle was great and with a consistent approach to creating the right vision the outcome of the course was very successful.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Power of the People

First it was Egypt and then over the next few months several countries followed in their foot steps. All around the world we have been reminded that positive change can be initiated by the people. 
  • Politicians change their opinions to suit the people who elect them
  • Community leaders are driven by the thoughts and attitudes of the people they serve
  • Companies are motivated by the responses from their customers
Many of the significant world changing moments in history have been inspired, motivated and driven by huge groups of people supporting a set of common values and beliefs.
Even dictators such as Gaddafi have succumb to the power of the people’s wishes over the last few months.
And yet I sit here writing this article pondering the many different issues that we have as a society and wonder why so many of us have the same opinions and yet do nothing about it.
Let me highlight just one issue out of the mountain of issues that are continually discussed daily throughout the media, in social arenas and around the dinner table.
Statistics demonstrate that the youth of this current generation and quite possibly the last one to, have been let down considerably by Government policies which have seriously diluted many of the core values that this country was built upon.
To openly discuss these polices and the negative affect many of them have had on communities across the country will take me of my main focus for this article and will inevitably increase the size of this article substantially.
The way in which we raise children in this country has changed so significantly we have many parents who are not sure what measures they can lawfully take to discipline their children and provide them with a good code of conduct.
One such example is a parent I recently met at a Life Skills boot camp event where I was teaching his child some basic skills around the subjects of respect, social responsibility and positive attitude.
In answer to a simple question I had directed towards him to ascertain his opinion why his child has become this out of control, angry and abusive individual, I was greeted with the uneducated response “What can I do. If I smack him I am breaking the law and if I don’t I am being accused of bringing up a bad kid”
Whilst the answer was easy to dismiss as a throw away comment, I have heard this comment enough to suggest we as a society are not providing the adequate education to young people to prepare them for one, growing up as responsible individual and two, understanding the huge responsibility of becoming a parent.
It is important to note that a majority of parents have the singular mission of providing their children with the best opportunities they can, which includes the provision of a good education and the right social skills.
However, we have a growing number of young people that are growing up with insufficient skills to interact positively in society or who are growing up in fear of being bullied as they are not taught any skills as an early intervention process to assist them in identifying and avoiding potentially dangerous situations.
Providing children with some key skills to increase their safety, their ability to work and play positively in social arenas and ultimately increase the opportunity for them to become positive forward thinking members of the community is essential to stopping the growing number of young people that are causing themselves and society so many problems.
Oh, those of you who continually telling me that you are tied of paying for the mistakes of others as you do not have any children yourself. Your right. Why should you continually pay into a system that is failing to provide the youth of today with the right skills to support your investment and make the place in which you live more prosperous.
What makes it worse is that your paying twice. You pay into a system that is providing inadequate skills to the young and then you pay again once these young people fall into crime and anti-social behaviour. Recent figures provided by the House of Commons suggested that the cost of anti-social behaviour in the UK is around 3.4 billion.
So what is the solution. We already established at the beginning of this article that those fortunate enough to be in positions of power are reactive to the opinions of the people.
Waiting for Government policies to be produced to reinstall some of the core values this country has lost will by in large be like waiting for it to snow in the sahara desert. 
Life Skills for Children provide key skills training for young people to learn and appreciate an agreed code of conduct. They learn how to increase their safety, communicate professionally, create positive thinking attitudes and how to identify with the required skills to become confident young people.
Life Skills for Children is just one of many groups that has a realistic solution to what has become a very difficult problem.
I personally have lost faith in politicians and community leaders as I have lived long enough to appreciate the many different ways they use to manipulate their positions to appease the people. 
Promises after promises with very few results.
If the people of countries such as Egypt can stand together to send a message so powerful it creates change, we to should speak as one, stand together and force the change required to help our children and our children’s children.
A majority of parents will tell you that the welfare of their children is paramount and that providing them with everything they require to grow and live a healthy and enjoyable life is all that matters to them.
Whilst this natural emotional response to having children has to be applauded, I have to ask why so many of us sit back and do nothing when something goes horribly wrong with the children of others. 
Whether we have children or not, this problem affects us all and just a small change in the education of our young ones and some parents can benefit us all.
Join the Life Skills for Children group and show your support for change