The idea of the Virgin Strive Challenge came easily. My cousin Noah and I had both identified that we wanted to do a big challenge – something to push us to our physical and mental limits. But just as importantly we wanted it to be a vehicle for conversation about teaching children how to develop the skills they need to thrive in life.
These skills, like having a positive perspective, goal setting, resilience and communication, inform such crucial parts of a child’s development. They’re also the DNA that runs through the Virgin Strive Challenge.
We didn’t want Strive to be a typical fundraiser, where we have a dinner to raise funds for the schools that do these amazing life skills projects. We wanted to be out on the frontline, meeting these amazing people and really showing how and why goal setting can make such a big difference in their lives and create a vehicle in which to talk about them.
I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but after two amazing days spent at three different schools, what I didn’t know was how much I was going to learn from the children. They were very passionate about thriving in life and it was incredibly inspiring. Some are further along that journey than others!
There were some amazing examples of striving. There was one pupil who came from Italy two years ago and spoke no English. He’s now fluent and is studying French and Spanish.
I was seeing different people facing very different challenges. Telling people about life skills while not really knowing about their challenges can be tricky, but it’s really about a balance. You have to inspire them while still respecting the complexity and breadth of the problems they face.
When I was at the Globe Academy I was part of the egg and spoon run during their sports day. I was next to a young girl who wouldn't get involved and didn't engage with me. But within five minutes of attention and interest in her, she was smiling and enjoying herself. Sometimes all it takes is to show an interest in people and make them realise someone cares.
The school trips have just been amazing; really powerful and humbling. The kids have been incredibly engaged. We’ve been chatting to them, playing sports with them, listening to their dreams.
There have been tears in the classroom, laughing in the sports field (when I dropped the egg during the spoon race) and a real feeling of positivity and growth all around. Both sides of the fence!
These sorts of experiences really reinforce why we are doing this challenge, and gives us extra reason to dig deep under pressure during tough parts of the challenge.
It was such a wonderful experience and a real education for myself and the team. We'll aim for many more but if we can improve even one life from this, it will have been worth it!