Mum's the word: Carshalton boys come together to help

Max, Charlie, Tom, Pravin and Carlo with a First Give Judge

Max and Tom have been best friends since reception - but only through working on the First Give project together did Max find out something very important about Tom’s life. Tom disclosed to his team during the second lesson of First Give that his mum suffered from Neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes an array of serious health problems. This was a shock to his team “I’ve been round to his house and met his mum hundreds of times. His mum looked fine – you couldn’t tell by looking and that’s the thing with Neurofibromatosis, you can’t always tell if someone has it.”

“We were shocked and just wanted to help”

His friends suggested that they choose The Neuro Foundation for First Give. “We wanted to help out our friend’s mum.  We couldn’t believe what he was telling us about it, the fact she has to take 30 tablets a day, we were shocked and just wanted to help.”

“I couldn’t talk fluently in public”

Charlie and Carlo both admit they were worried about public speaking before First Give – “I couldn’t talk fluently in public. I have always made sure I was in the background in the past. The training videos we did in lessons and the workshop really helped.  I feel so much more confident now – we knew we were doing it for a good cause so we had nothing to be scared of. We did our presentation again the next day in an assembly in front of all of Year 8 and I wasn’t scared!”

“I am so incredibly proud

The boys’ presentation featured plenty of audience participation – starting with asking the audience to pronounce Neurofibromatosis – a challenge which poignantly showed how unfamiliar the condition is. There were bags of passion from all team members and an emotional video of Tom’s mum talking about her experience. It was the clear passion that won their charity the top prize of £1,000. The prize money, along with the rest of the programme at this school, is made possible by the Jack Petchey Foundation. Jack Petchey believes in the power of young people to change their communities and funds over 10,000 young people to take part in the First Give experience.

Needless to say there were a few tears in the audience, not least from Tom’s mum. “I am so incredibly proud of Tom and all the boys for their fantastic presentation. It is so wonderful that they have raised awareness for The Neuro Foundation, and due to their hard work and dedication were able to donate £1,000 to support me and other people struggling with NF.” Alongside Tom’s mum’s reaction, the other boys’ parents were so taken aback by the condition and the impact of the presentation that they themselves have since personally donated to the charity.

“Put your heart into it”

It was clear that this was a true team effort – the video creation, scripting and slides were split according to the team’s strengths. “We knew we had to work as a team and use all our skills to win.” A tip the team would give to young people doing First Give is “Keep improving your presentation – don’t stop after the class competition! Ours changed so much - we were always improving it - and the First Give workshop really helped. It made us realise we had too many words on our slides and we would get more power through our words and with less on the screen.”

 But most importantly, the boys say “Put your heart into it.” Great advice indeed!