Youngsters rise to the tough challenge

Project Challenge presentation evening at The Shay Stadium, Halifax.'From the left, Jennifer Abel, Ruth Webster, Alex Poskitt, Sam Chatterton and Aaron Clarke.
Project Challenge presentation evening at The Shay Stadium, Halifax.'From the left, Jennifer Abel, Ruth Webster, Alex Poskitt, Sam Chatterton and Aaron Clarke.

Dedicated youngsters marked completing the challenge of a lifetime at a special graduation ceremony.

Teenagers celebrated the end of a six month long training period at Project Challenge which saw them embark on numerous gruelling exhibitions.

From an original 18 young people who signed up to the scheme, just six completed the course.

“It’s not called Project Challenge for nothing,” said manager Lorna Butterick.

“A lot of people start it and realise it’s not for them. They’ve got to be really committed to doing it.”

Dean Clough based Project Challenge is a registered charity which delivers an intensive training programme to young people between the ages of 16 and 19.

It combines classroom learning with tough physical challenges, aiming to deliver an effective youth programme to meet the needs of disaffected young people by the use of the six month basic skills training programme.

“A lot of it is just a maturity that comes in them,” said Lorna.

“They’re a lot more ready for work, they’ve grown up really with us, they’ve had to learn to be fully self supportive and work in a group and be dependent on each other.”

During the six months participants carry out a three, four and five day-long exhibition at the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Wales, before embarking on a two-week self supporting exhibition - the Tour du Mont Blanc.

But Lorna said it doesn’t stop there, Project Challenge still continues to support its members - even after they’ve graduated.

She said: “The group we’ve got now includes a young man who’s about to go into an apprenticeship.

“We’ve got a young girl we’re going to employ her for three months while she goes on an internship.”

Jennifer Abel, 17, was one of this year’s graduates. She said: “I think one of the best things about Project Challenge is the support you get.

“I didn’t know how to locate a map, let alone read one. “The training was fantastic.”

Another graduate, Alex Poskitt, 17, said: “I’ve gained more maturity in myself. I’ve grown up a lot.

“I’ve grown physically fitter - I probably would not have been able to do it without the support of the staff.”