NI youngsters excel at ACFA Outreach

28 November 2012

Students from Lisnagarvey High School in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, have been recognised for successfully completing the Army Cadet Force Association’s Outreach programme.

The unique adventure training programme was designed to help boost the confidence of the students, while also providing them with internationally recognised qualifications.

The students who successfully met the challenge of the ACFA’s pioneering Outreach programme were each presented with certificates to recognise the award of five Open College Network credits plus the Heartstart Award.

Outreach takes students on a week-long residential programme, away from usual home and school environment and far from the usual comfort zone. Mentally and physically demanding, the course aims to show young people just how much they can achieve when they are given - and take - the opportunity. While ‘at camp’ they tackle everything from navigation tasks, cooking in the field, rock climbing, mountain biking and fieldcraft. They also learn how to administer first aid skills in a life-threatening emergency, leading to the British Heart Foundation’s Heartstart award.

It’s a deliberately tough agenda delivered by volunteer Adult Instructors and senior Cadets who act as mentors but, according to Major Ian Poxon, Outreach Project Leader, the Lisnagarvey students were more than up for any challenge that came their way.

He said:

"Modern life can be tough on young people. They are bombarded on every side with unrealistic messages about how they ought to look and act and, whether it’s about winning X Factor, becoming a Premier League footballer or launching a mega ‘Dot Com’ empire, the pressure is on to excel. When they fall short of those fantasy ideals teenagers can feel like failures. Give them a genuine challenge however, something tough but relevant, and they shine!

"The students from Lisnagarvey High School demonstrated just how much can be achieved even within a very short time frame. They showed ‘true grit’ in tackling every challenge we threw at them and managed to extract a laugh or two out of every situation! By stepping up to physical and mental challenges which they may have thought beyond their reach, the students gained huge confidence. They worked successfully both independently and as a team and I think each one finished ‘Outreach’ with a new insight into their personal potential. Their families and school can be proud of them - and they ought to be very proud of themselves!".

Congratulating his students and thanking mentors, parents, governors and the Army Cadet Force Association staff, Mr Jim Sheerin, Principal of Lisnagarvey High School, said:

"We know that our pupils have the capacity to succeed, but sometimes they need a reminder of their own potential and that’s what ‘Outreach’ delivered. The students who took part in the programme have gained considerably in confidence, experience and discipline and we are all determined to build on that for the future. They should all be extremely happy with the outcome and families, friends, school and wider community should be impressed at what these young people have achieved given the opportunity, the challenge and the support of people who believe in them".

Colonel Maurice Warnock, Commandant 2 (NI) Battalion Army Cadet Force, was delighted at the success of the venture and congratulated all the young people who took part, both as participants and as mentors. He said:

"This was a fantastic partnership and I know that the senior Cadets who worked on the venture enjoyed sharing their skills with the Lisnagarvey students. In doing so those Cadets not only earned themselves four CV-boosting Open College Network credits, but forged some new friendships into the bargain!".

Picture captions

002 Pictured after the formal reception which marked the successful conclusion of Outreach are, from left, Colonel Johnny Rollins MBE, Chief Executive of the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association Northern Ireland; Principal of Lisnagarvey High School, Mr Jim Sheerin; Colonel Maurice Warnock, Commandant 2 (NI) Battalion Army Cadet Force; Ms Ali Johnston and Mr Brian Owens, teachers at Lisnagarvey High School.

0097 Colonel Maurice Warnock congratulates Lisnagarvey student Darren Allen, pictured with his proud mum, Lindsay, and Principal, Mr Jim Sheerin.

0102 Brother and sister duo Rebecca and Joshua McRoberts are pictured showing off their certificates to mum and dad, Helen and Graham, watched by a smiling Colonel Warnock.

0103 15-year-old Lisnagarvey High School student Dylan Stewart delights his family - as Colonel Warnock adds his personal congratulations. Pictured with Dylan are mum and dad Jim and Janice and sister, Leigha.

0088 Christopher Adams from Lisburn, one of the senior Cadets who mentored the Outreach students receives congratulations and a certificate proclaiming four Open College Network credits from Colonel Warnock.

0091 Sandra Vaughan, also from Lisburn, is congratulated on her contribution as a Cadet Mentor to the project.

007 Major Ian Poxon, Outreach Project Leader; school Principal Mr Jim Sheerin and Colonel Maurice Warnock, pictured at the Outreach awards presentation.