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How do you get from troubled teen to young achiever?

Life Routes knows the way...

When Sarah joined Life Routes, she was on her way to being permanently excluded from school: ‘I didn’t go much’, she says; ‘because they labelled me as trouble and my family as not any good’.

Sarah might not have realised it then, but her future was on something of a knife edge.

All too easily, she could have tipped into a downward spiral of exclusion; not just from school, but from further education, opportunity, choices... and the chance of gaining a steady foothold on adult life. But something kept Sarah on the right side of the line; a programme called Life Routes, run by Childlife charity the National Children’s Bureau (NCB).

When you see what a difference Life Routes has made to Sarah and to other vulnerable young people, I hope you’ll be inspired to send a gift to Childlife today. Because, in order to provide this essential safety net, the dedicated people at NCB really do need our help.

Life Routes offers project and team-based learning to young people in areas of high deprivation. Project workers support participants in developing the skills and confidence they need to re-engage with education, to take up employment opportunities and to make a contribution to their communities. As Programme Manager, Sophie Wood explains; ‘it’s all about giving young people the skills they need to lead an independent and fulfilling life’.

Since it started in 2004, Life Routes has reached over 15,000 young people. A staggering 98% of them have developed increased levels of teamwork, problem-solving, decision-making and communication as a result; skills that will prove invaluable in helping them to complete their studies, hold down a job and move on in their lives.

It’s wonderful to see how young people, previously labelled ‘trouble’ – or worse - can flourish with Life Routes.

For example, 40 young people from Park Lane Learning Trust in Calderdale were recently involved in two Life Routes projects in their local community. One group decided to make soup and invite elderly people into their school for lunch, while the others offered a free walking service for rescue dogs.

Having initially thought that volunteering would make them look ‘weak’ or ‘like a mug’, the young people who took part typically described feelings of pride and increased confidence: ‘Getting involved is something that has made a contribution to the community’, said one; ‘I am getting recognition for my good behaviour – and even my parents are proud.’

Sarah has also seen her self-esteem blossom since becoming involved with Life Routes: ‘I am definitely more confident’, she says; ‘and able to think about what I want to do in life.’ And one of the things she was keen to try was giving something back to the Life Routes.

‘I am still with Life Routes as a volunteer mentor’, says Sarah; ‘I hope I can help others to achieve like I have.’

Read more about Sarah and Life Routes Programme Manager, Sophie.
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