Be the best you can, with Humanutopia

Be the best you can, with Humanutopia at ARK William Parker Academy

Over the last two weeks at ARK William Parker Academy (AWPA) our Year 8 and 10 students have participated in exciting and transformational workshops with Humanutopia, a social enterprise company that creates and runs inspirational, life-changing courses for young people and adults in schools across the UK. Over the last 10 years, the company has developed an impressive track record of engaging with young people, having worked with similar groups in over 200 schools.

The two weeks began with Year 10 students working on a course called ‘Who Are You?’ designed to help students discover an authentic side to themselves. The day focused on the key areas of peer pressure/conformity, bullying, developing tolerance and empathy for each other, and the importance of dreams and aspirations.

Despite the serious intentions of the project, there were many activities that were enormous fun, being both physically and intellectually challenging; some exercises involved students having to follow an accelerating sequence of instructions, processing those instructions and converting them into physical activity, with increasingly hilarious and surreal results. Who knew there were so many ways of touching the tip of your nose with your fingertip?

The “Who Are You?” day was one of great contrasts, where students would smoothly make the transition from uncontrollable giggling to thoughtful and insightful considerations of each student’s rights and responsibilities as members of the AWPA community. Many new friendships, based on mutual respect and consideration for the feelings of others were forged during these sessions.

Chris Saxby (Year 10 “Hero”) said, “The first day was a real eye-opener, to see how we all reacted to revealing our feelings about how we had been treated by each other up to this point.”

At the end of the “Who Are You?” day, a number of the Year 10 students rose to the challenge and volunteered to become “Heroes” – positive role models whose conduct, behaviour and aspirations will embody and demonstrate a code of behaviour to which younger students will aspire. The successful “Heroes” did a day of training and then worked with the whole of Year 8 to co-deliver the “Who Are You?” day with the Humanutopia team.

Arthur Clay (Year 8 student) said about working with the Year 10 “Heroes”, “The “heroes” are a really good idea; you now know you can go to them to ask for help and that they will understand how you feel.”

Jack Bloomfield (A Year 10 “Hero”) said, when asked about working with the Year 8 students, “What was interesting was when we, the year 10 students, came to the realization that the Year 8 students were human beings who were going through the same things that we had gone through – it’s generational – and we need to change that.”

The “Heroes” then spent some time with smaller groups of Year 8 students deconstructing and evaluating the icons and messages of the day. Each Year 10 “Hero” has been assigned a small number of Year 8 students who they will continue to mentor for the remainder of this term and on into Years 11 and 9 respectively.

Blake Murdock (Year 8) said, after the sessions were over, “I think that people will now realize the effects of their actions, such as bullying, on each other.”

Alex Trundle (Year 10 “Hero”) said, “In the end, we in Year 10 have learned about the feelings and experiences of others, and this has forced me to have a re-think and look at my own behaviour, to the point where I think we have to change how things have been.”

Mr Leadbitter (Head of Upper School) when asked about his experience of the sessions said, “I was privileged to observe and experience over 300 of our students develop their empathetic skills and commit themselves to making ARK William Parker Academy a more inclusive, supportive and caring community through their actions and contributions.”