On Saturday morning, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to Inspire Prep’s last bootcamp sessions of their 8-week weekend course.
Aspire is a bootcamp for children (mostly aged around 10-16: i.e. KS2 —> GCSE) with the theme being to **prepare tomorrow’s leaders**. As well as English, Science and Maths tutoring, Aspire also focuses on a more holistic education (outside of pure academia and even “traditional education” as a whole), with the aim of equipping young people with the skills and knowledge to succeed and do well in the world we live in today.
The second speaker (after myself) on the day was Sabrina, who told us about how she views her identity (British / American / Liberian – in nor particular order), and how she doesn’t identify with any one of those in isolation, but rather each makes up who she is, and have in some way informed her world view. Sabrina’s story is inspiring, having come from a single-parent home, and now meeting with and sitting next to world leaders of all varieties.
She spoke about the need for authenticity, and the need to remain true to who you are, no matter where in the world you find yourself, or whichever position you are in. She also spoke of the importance to realise that you are as deserving of anyone else to be there (e.g. sat at a table with world leaders), and to recognise that what you bring to the table – even if you are coming from a non-typical background compared to the others there. Sabrina went on to tell us how, as leaders in a global world, we need to be able to know how to relate and respond appropriately to one another, and across cultures; speaking after the session, I briefly mentioned EQ (emotional intelligence) and Sabrina introduced me to CQ (cultural intelligence) – which I hadn’t heard of!).
I spoke about happiness and mental health, in particular referencing the newly-emerging field of positive psychology; science is now showing us what we can do to keep well and live a good life.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Aspire Bootcamp was that both youths and parents attended – and so everyone was involved. It is quite clear that the community – only coming together for its second year – is already a special and close-knit one. My feeling is that Aspire will continue to grow and, I hope, have an impact on the lives of more young people, parents, and everyone involved, from the teachers to the speakers on the Bootcamp.
At a time when wellbeing has flatlined, mental health issues are on the rise and – in this era of social media and constant connectivity – where we are, ironically more disconnected than ever before, communities like Aspire will have a huge role to play. After all, social relationships are said to be the number one factor when it comes to determining our mental wellbeing.
Of course, beyond the community element, Aspire is doing some fantastic work to help youths achieve academically, and also instil broader skills and knowledge to help them in their lives ahead.
Next year, there is talk of a retreat outside of London for the Aspire Bootcampers. Perhaps there might one day be an Aspire School…
I hope Aspire keeps going from strength to strength. It is certainly an initiative to keep an eye on and one, I hope, that I will be fortunate enough to be involved with again.