A lack of confidence and low self-esteem are being tackled by a group of city school pupils during a course staged by Derbyshire firefighters.
Five students from The Bemrose School, in Uttoxeter Road, have been attending Kingsway Fire Station once a week to take part in the Youth Engagement Scheme, known as YES!
YES! courses are targeted at young people aged between 12 and 16 years old who may have low self-esteem, be at risk of exclusion or disengaged with education, or they may be young carers.
Run by Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, the 10-week course is designed to help reduce anti-social behaviour, improve school attendance levels, boost confidence, develop an understanding and appreciation for their communities and encourage aspirations for a more positive future.
Ashley Lakin, 13, said: “I enjoyed the activity where you were blindfolded so that it was like you were in a smoke-filled room. You had to swipe your foot in front of you to check whether there was anything you might bump into and stamp your foot to see if the floor would hold you.
“I really feel like I have learned a lot and I also think I would be able to stay calm if I ever came across a fire because I’d know what to do.”
Thirteen-year-old Adam Littlefair said: “The best bit was running the fire hose and remembering all the things you have to shout out as part of the drill.
“I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter and so I am really enjoying this course. It has made me even more keen to join the fire service, I like how you get to experience all kinds of things you wouldn’t ordinarily get to do.”
During the course the pupils, who are all in year nine, learn about first aid and resuscitation, radio communications, driver safety, as well as operational skills such as the use of the ladders and hose.
At the end of the scheme a Pass Out ceremony is held where students are able to invite friends and family and demonstrate the teamwork and firefighting skills they have learnt and practiced over the previous weeks.
The Bemrose School learning mentor Conor Moore said: “The children we selected for the course were those that we felt would benefit from a bit more attention and encouragement.
“After just a few sessions I can already see a difference in them. Their confidence levels have improved significantly and they are really coming out of their shells.
“They have their own protective kit to wear and it initially took them more than three minutes to get it all on. We’re down to 90 seconds now, so that’s a definite improvement.”
Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, Area Manager Philip Mitchell said: “Over the last ten years the Service has delivered over 51 YES schemes, working with over 700 young people to support their personal and social development. “Our instructors work closely with participants, building their confidence and giving them life skills that will increase their chances of securing employment or future training, or where necessary, increasing their chances of returning to education.
“I look forward to seeing Ashley and the other pupils from Bemrose School at their pass out ceremony in December, when they will have the opportunity to showcase their new skills to their family and friends. I hope these new skills will stay with them forever, and set them all up for a positive future.”
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