‘For young people, by young people’, that’s the mantra at O2 Think Big. As a previous Think Big project leader I was totally inspired by what a company like O2 in partnership with NYA were doing. In fact, I was so impressed that when the opportunity to join the team arose, I grabbed it with both hands!
I joined National Youth Agency working on the O2 Think Big programme nearly 3 years ago now. The core delivery team working on the programme are all under the age of 25. Why? Well why not, it makes sense, Think Big is a programme for 13-25 year olds after all. What amazes me is exactly what these 13-25 year olds are going out there and achieving. Yes Think Big provides money, training and support but we’re just enablers, it’s the young people themselves who are standing up, leading change and making a positive difference in their communities. They are showing others the way, thinking like ‘adults’ to tackle real world issues.
It’s not just our core staff team that’s young, we also utilise the experiences of our Think Big project leaders. One example of this is giving our Alumni (a network of young people who have been right the way through our programme) the chance to deliver Think ideation sessions, inspiring other young people to get involved with social action.
Through other programmes at Think Big such as GoThinkBig, young people are given the opportunity to shadow senior O2 people, teams and partake in work experience with a whole host of organisations, to gain a real insight into working ‘adult’ life.
For me, being exposed to the working world at such as a young age has not only been an eye opener but I really feel it has helped to prepare me for the rest of working life. Yeah it’s hard work and stressful at times but it’s incredibly rewarding. Age is just a number and responsibility was always given from day one. With this responsibility came real accountability and hell yeah I’ve messed up countless times, but with the right support it was always okay, because each and every time I learn, grow and we all move on.
So on Takeover Day my message is simple. Young people are the future and shouldn’t be held back by age. Think Big and various other programmes support young people to lead rather than follow and make decisions about the kind of future they want to see for themselves and for others.