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Saturday 20th August, 2016 saw our Next Step Group Children’s Champion take our first group of secondary school, looked after children for some outdoor activities at Arethusa Venture Centre, Upnor.

The mixed group of 11-18 year olds joined Michelle Batchelor and one of Next Step’s Supervising Social Worker’s Liz Davies on a weekend of adventure and team building – which included climbing, kayaking, water polo, archery and even a high rope ‘leap of faith’.

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“This type of weekend is fantastic for young people” said Michelle Batchelor, Children’s Champion for Next Step Fostering Group, “They get the opportunity to try activities that they might otherwise never get to take part in, and as a result grow in confidence and self-esteem as well as learning how to function within a group.

“Following this experience, many of the older teenagers may well be interested in taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which I also manage for the Next Step Group. We have already sponsored a number of our looked after children through the scheme, enabling them to achieve their Bronze award so far. The DofE Award has proven a great tool to help them build confidence, resilience and communication skills.”

Alex Wilkes, Operations Officer for the Duke of Edinburgh Award told us, “If you have a DofE Award on you CV, you are much more likely to get an interview, so this is a great investment in the children’s future.”

The group were also encouraged to take part in ‘Chill & Talk’ sessions where the youngsters were able to share their personal experiences and emotions while learning to identify and empathise with each other’s situations. “At school I don’t fit in. No one understands what I’ve been through. This camp gave me a chance to meet and talk to people with the same experiences as me.” Anon, 15. 

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Michelle continues, “These activities help develop skills and tools as well as emotional intelligence which our young people are able to put into use at school, at home and in life in general. 

The weekend ended on an even higher note with a  mini talent competition, where many of the children showed their hidden talents of singing, rapping, beat box and some moving spoken word. “We witnessed so much talent amongst these young people this weekend,” added Liz Davies, Supervising Social Worker for Next Step Fostering. “Michelle hopes to organise an agency wide talent show in the near future, open to all our looked after children, so watch this space for the next BGT or X factor winner!

To find out more about fostering, how to become a foster carer or the work that Michelle does call 0845 6038354, email info@nextstepfostering.org or contact us.