We often talk about how great the Virgin STRIVE Challenge is: it’s an awesome adventure, an emotional experience, a chance to grow over a month with great friends, new and old.
But a question we often get asked is why STRIVE? Why push ourselves through a gruelling month of endurance hiking, cycling, swimming and running? What is it all for?
The answer is simple; to raise money for Big Change.
Big Change was set up in 2012 by Holly and Sam Branson and four friends to think differently about the role charity can play in driving positive change for young people across the UK.
This summer, Holly and Sam will be leading the way from the Matterhorn to Mount Etna, to try and raise £1.5 million for Big Change and the projects they support.
How Big Change works
Big Change finds and supports early stage projects or charities that are rethinking the way we are setting up young people in the UK, so that they can thrive in life and not just in exams. To do this, rather than supporting one project or one idea, we nurture a portfolio of cutting-edge projects providing skills, opportunities and support for young people to empower them to succeed. Big Change provides these project with seed funding, support, and connections to help them in their ambition to have an impact on the lives of the next generation.
Celebrating our impact so far
Last Tuesday, we brought together our Big Change and STRIVE Community to find out exactly how the money raised from STRIVE will be impacting young people across the country.
A key theme from all of the speakers and the audience was the idea that this change will only be achieved through collaboration.
Adventurer, entrepreneur and Core Team Striver Justin Packshaw described the need ‘to create a vision that challenges our current reality, and we do that by collaboration. We have to collaborate!’
Big Changer, poet and STRIVER Karl Lokko, articulated this perfectly in one of his poems:- ‘without all we are but a fraction’. As Essie North Managing Director of Big Change remarked ‘this is true of the community that sits here in this room, but it also true of how we drive change for young people and tonight is a celebration of that.’
Big Change Projects supported through STRIVE
Some of the Big Change project partners joined us on stage at the IMPACT event, to showcase the tangible change the money raised from STRIVE has made possible.
Ruth Igbebuna, who leads a project called RECLAIM, puts into practice STRIVE and Big Change’s ambition. For Ruth ‘RECLAIM has a mission to end leadership inequality’. With the help of Big Change they have set up a project called ‘fairer futures’ helping young people across the country who aspire to be leaders. As Ruth describes:
‘’There are kids all across the North of England on estates and council estates, who dream of changing the world, who dream of making an impact but they feel a long way from power and influence. So RECLAIM acts as that bridge. It supports them and tells them that you can do that. Get rid of your imposter syndrome, go to Westminster, lead a company. Whatever you want to do you can achieve it.’’
Similarly helping us to realise the Big Change vision, is education reformer and founder of School 21, Ed Fidoe. He summed up the challenge we face in one line ‘the UK education system is simply not ambitious enough’. At School 21, Ed has incorporated timeless skills such as craftsmanship and speaking skills into the curriculum, and their students are already reaping the rewards. With the help of the funds of STRIVE 2016, their Oracy program, Voice 21, will be expanded to school’s across the country- a great STRIVE success story.
A shared Growth Mindset
A key theme underpinning everything at Big Change and STRIVE is Growth Mindset. A Growth Mindset is an approach to life in which challenge and failure are ultimately seen to provide an opportunity to grow. As Lisa Eigbadon, a 16 year old from Manchester and member of the Big Change youth advisory board explained:
‘‘Before Big Change I had no idea what a growth and fixed mindset was. My ambition was to become a lawyer, but because of my postcode, my race, my gender, I strongly believed it would be too hard to reach that ultimate goal; that started to have an effect on my education. I began to think, you know whatever happens – it’s ok. And then I came across Reclaim. I sat down with them and they talked to me. I saw lots of different examples of great women who went out and did some amazing things and that really inspired me, and my mindset started to change from a fixed one to a growth one.’’
And this Growth Mindset, or as we sometime calls it the STRIVE Mindset has infiltrated STRIVERS alike. Lara Milward, a Core Team STRIVER, spoke about how she had needed to develop a Growth Mindset to participate in STRIVE 2014.
”As a mother with a business and two children, my initial reaction to STRIVE was one of hilarity – you have got to be joking! How could I leave my kids and business for a whole month? Surely the sky would fall in if I abandon my post. And it was one of fear, surprisingly in the shape of the Matterhorn and the thought of 1,000km on a road bike- of which I had no experience.”
”Now when I fly to Geneva, I can’t believe I got there on a bicycle! What felt impossible, became possible. I and my family had to employ a growth mindset. We removed obstacles tackled the fears and we made it happen. My children, your children, our children are the future of the UK. If we want them to be brave enough to STRIVE in life, and to believe that they can do it, we need to lead by example.”
Turning words into action
After what seemed a tumultuous few weeks for the country, all the speakers at the Impact Events were united in the call to action that now is the time to invest in the next generation. Now is the time to be raising money for the future.
In the words of one of our young advisors Jeremiah Emmanuel ‘Change is a word, but we need it to become an action’.
If you want to become part of the Big Change and STRIVE community, you can donate to the Virgin STRIVE Challenge here.