For Shaeera at Reach Academy in Feltem, the First Give programme was the start of a new chapter.
Shaeera experienced a challenging first few years of secondary school. She was very closed in Years 7 and 8, and at the start of Year 9 her behaviour went into a fast decline. She was getting into lots of trouble at school and teachers were very worried about her.
This all changed later in Year 9 when Shaeera started the First Give programme. Shaeera chose to represent Home-Start in Hounslow, who support families with young children to deal with the challenges they face. Coming from a big family herself, this was a cause close to her heart. Shaeera realised that she had to step up for her team to win.
“I just didn’t want to be that girl who gets in trouble anymore, I wanted to be the girl who got praise and did good things.”
Shaeera had never spoken in public before. “I was nervous but I knew I wanted to win.” Her presentation hit a note with the judges and Home-Start were awarded £250. The head of Year 9, Phil Fowkes said, “Year 9 had been very negative for Shaeera. She was not showing who she really was, but following others. She came out of her shell during First Give and it allowed her to shine in all the right ways. This was a real turning point for her.”
Shaeera has continued to speak up for causes in which she is passionate. She recently submitted a Soapbox Challenge at the First Give Awards 2016. The 30 second pitch was a passionate rap about depression. The piece is outstanding and came a close runner up to the top prize – view it here.
And it hasn’t stopped there! In the past few months she has since visited Ashgrove, a care home for suffers of Alzheimer’s Disease, and is applying to volunteer there over the next summer holidays. This week she has visited the House of Parliament to speak about the importance of teaching about genocide in the curriculum, and she has also made it through to the second round of the Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge!
“Completing First Give has given me the confidence to speak up about issues I care about and helped me change my behaviour for the better.” This girl’s success is a reminder of the transformative effect of working for something you believe in.