Thirty years ago Project Challenge, which provides alternative post-16 education, was incorporated as a charity.
It was started in 1991 by Ted Howarth, an ex SAS soldier and youth worker who believed that a person’s past should not get in the way of their future.
In the beginning Project Challenge’s training programme was based on building learner confidence and self-esteem through a series of outdoor excursions, culminating in a three-week overseas trip to either the Pyrenees in the summer or Norway in the winter, testing and challenging the young people’s physical and mental capacities.
The right to go on a journey had to be earned by learners through good attendance and participation in the training programmes through the year. The gruelling expeditions challenged young people’s mental and physical capacities and often the experience proved to be the life-changing spur they needed to make significant changes in their lives.
In 2002 Lorna Butterick joined Project Challenge as Business Manager and began to introduce new programmes to meet changing circumstances.
In August 2019 Project Challenge moved from Dean Clough, to the Orange Box Young People’s Centre in Halifax centre, where Ted’s vision for young people continues to be honoured.
“Project Challenge now offers training programmes working with 16-19 year olds who have become disengaged from traditional education," said Lorna. "We offer two BTEC Level 1 vocational programmes in Sport and Hospitality plus Functional Skills maths and English from Entry level to Level 2. Our holistic approach is designed to initially re-engage learners with an outcome of further education or employment.
"Staff are qualified youth workers and teachers able to offer pastoral support to learners facing challenging personal situations.
"We understand that not all young people learn in in a formal classroom setting. Tutors develop individual programmes to not only help young people get a qualification but to also develop their confidence and life skills."
Last year Lorna won the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award at the Calderdale Community Foundation Awards, being praised for her dedication and continuation to constantly go above and beyond and helping to change so many young peoples’ lives.
This is the second time that a service staff member has won this award after Peter Dawber won it in 2009.
Jill Wilson, the Chair of the Project Challenge Management Board, has been involved since the beginning.
She said: “For thirty years, the dedicated staff at Project Challenge have helped many young people achieve their goals and improve their lifestyles.
"Project Challenge aims to unlock young people’s potential by developing their confidence enabling them to achieve qualifications and self-esteem. That was the aim when Ted set-up the organisation and it remains as valid now as it did then. For as long as the young people of Calderdale need us we will be there to help them.”
For further information contact: Keith Butterick 01422 363644 or visit www.projectchallenge.org.uk.