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Year 8 students from Samuel Kings secondary school in Alston have called for more awareness around litter and want their community to start picking up after themselves. The campaign which calls for people to ‘Just bin it’ aims to make their surroundings a more environmentally safe – and more beautiful – place to live.

Their campaign is a result of their participation in the Leading Change Programme, delivered by the Cockermouth-based Centre for Leadership Performance, in partnership with Eden District Council and local businesses. The programme, aimed at secondary school aged children challenges them to take the lead on encouraging positive change in their communities. They are asked to identify an issue that matters to them and turn it into a practical campaign with the help of business mentors and Nicola Wooley, Centre for Leadership Performance’s Secondary Programme Manager.

The project has been funded by Eden District Council and places a focus on sustainability in the community. The pupils have been supported by Sharon Brook, from the North Lakes Hotel, in her new role as Enterprise Advisor through the Cumbria Careers Hub.

The programme encourages creative thinking, develops self-confidence and helps build links between young people, secondary schools, local businesses, charities and the third sector. Pupils have also been exposed to positive business role models and get a greater understanding of careers in their local area.

Greg MacDonald from Eden Council visited the school to hear their ideas, see their campaign posters and give feedback on their proposals. He said, “I was really impressed with the range of ideas and in particular the ability and enthusiasm to work together in teams. Even though I was only with the group for an hour I saw clear evidence of leadership skills in action. The challenge we all now face is how we nurture these skills over the coming years to support the development of the leaders of the future.”

Member of the group commented, We’ve really enjoyed the experience and feel that we have been given opportunities which we didn’t know existed. We learned how to work as a team and how to break up big tasks into smaller tasks to make them more achievable. We feel that we’ve been listened to and honestly didn’t think that we would get the opportunity to make a change in our local community at our age.”

Mark Fletcher, Faculty Leader at the school added, I have witnessed a growth in the students and a maturity to their approach to the scheme which has become more pronounced as the sessions have progressed. It has been lovely to see EVERY student becoming involved and playing an active part in the sessions, even the quiet ones played an active role in their group’s ideas. I have also been impressed with the way they took onboard advice and guidance to shape their ideas and was particularly proud when they presented their proposals to Eden Council. They spoke with intent, passion, and a real knowledge of how, and why, the proposals were important to them.”

Pupils will continue working with the Centre for Leadership Performance with support from teachers and members of Eden District Council who are keen to help the young people make connections with local decision-makers in order to turn their ideas into a reality.

Leading Change is just one of Centre for Leadership’s flagship programmes. The not-for-profit organisation creates and delivers an inclusive ladder of lifelong leadership learning opportunities from Primary to Boardroom and exists to create Cumbria’s leaders of today and tomorrow.

Learn more about Leading Change here:

If you are a business interested in funding or providing expertise to support the Leading Change programme please get in touch with for more information.