Leaders Week helped me to find myself as an individual and taught me to be true to myself and to remain positive in every situation that comes your way.
I applied to NCS Leaders, not thinking that I would be one of the 107 lucky people who gained a place on this fantastic week. As soon as I received the email about making a 30 second video showcasing the NCS Trust Values, I wasted no time in getting it done - after six attempts I finally had what I thought was the perfect video to submit (although it was four minutes long). Not expecting to get through, I was ecstatic when I got an email telling me the dates and information for my travel as well as feeling a bit of disbelief that all of this was happening.
My NCS Leaders Journey began on Sunday 23rd October, and it was the first time I had journeyed along to London by myself. It was a feeling of independence I don't think I could have achieved if it wasn't for NCS. It was a bit terrifying at first but I ended up enjoying myself a lot! When I arrived at the NCS Trust Offices, there were lots of other friendly leaders who I got to know extremely quickly. After playing a few fun ice breakers with my new amazing team, we made our way to Sevenoaks.
On the first day, we were lucky enough to experience a remarkable one hand pianist called Nicholas McCarthy, who told us about his inspiring journey and taught us to never give up our dreams and always follow our hearts. After this, each team had to work together to complete the 'deadly' lava challenge! It was amazingly hilarious, with each time working hard to win!
Tuesday was my favourite day of the entire Leaders Week - it was the day our team came together and bonded as one - The Central London Challenge! We had to rush around London by ourselves completing various challenges from starting a Flashmob to performing next to a street artist in Covent Gardens! Our team got lost many times, and spent most of the day running from one place to another - but it was the most memorable and exciting experience which I will never forget.
Following a great lunch at Southbank Centre overlooking the River Thames, we had another talk with BBC Radio One's Huw Stephens who gave us a lot of insight into the social action programmes run by BBC Radio and how we could get involved. Then we visited the Houses of Parliament to meet our local MP's to discuss our own personal passions and social projects we want to complete in the future, something I never would have thought of being able to do in my life! The way back to Sevenoaks was full of NCS chanting at London Bridge Station and a mind-blowing rap battle between NCS Leaders and past Alumini. It was truly an unforgettable day!
On Wednesday I visited Kent University to gain insight on their role in the community and how they create an impact. They started an inspiring social action project in which the tours of Canterbury and its history is given by people who were previously homeless. We then all began to plan our own social action projects and gave a business pitch to a panel of judges who asked us some tough questions before crowing a winner.
Thursday was the most stressful day of the week - presentation day! Each team gave a presentation about their journey and what they planned to do ahead in their local communities. This was such an inspiring and insightful two hours as we learnt some key messages from the groups. Team 4 taught us to "always be true to ourselves and never shy away from who you are", while Team 8 reminded us that "Y'all haven't done NCS, y'all doing NCS". We met the CEO for NCS as well as our Regional Youth Boards who offered us all fantastic opportunities for the future as well as being introduced to the National Youth Board.
Friday morning was full of tears, despair and longing for the week to continue or begin again. After a week of teamwork, stories, adventures and new friendships it was time to say goodbye to some of the best people I had ever met. I came into NCS Leaders not knowing anyone but I left with 5 different WhatsApp group chats and a snapchat full of new contacts who are honestly some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. I never thought that this week would end up being the best of my entire life and something I would recommend to every NCS graduate in the country.
NCS helped me go from good to great, but NCS Leaders helped me go from good to great to aspiring. I just wish I could do it all over again.....
Photo Credit - Benny J Johnson