Our Senior School attended a Leadership and Service trip to Sanya last week. Our objectives were threefold: 1. Build team spirit amongst our Senior School students. 2. Participate in active social outreach. 3. Provide opportunities for our students to face new challenges. The students’ reflections on the last evening of the trip suggested we achieved all three of our objectives. Students across Year Groups got to know each other a lot better, the social outreach experience will live with us forever, and new challenges abounded, some large, some small.
The social outreach at ‘The Bright Connection’ was a very humbling experience, confronting and overwhelming at times, with both happy and sad moments. The Bright Connection is a home for children with cerebral palsy and autism. The children are looked after by a group of dedicated carers who have a tireless commitment to the children in their care. Many of the children cannot feed themselves, some can’t walk on their own and others need constant supervision. On arrival we were confronted with children bound to devices to help them stand and others bound with cloth to chairs for their own safety. There are just not enough hands to care for each individual.
Our students were allocated tasks ranging from cleaning and kitchen work to teaching and physical therapy. Reflecting on their experience, the students understood the magnitude of the task faced by the carers on a daily basis. Our Harrovians lent a helping hand for a day. On most days of the year the carers do it all themselves. We wondered about the real value of our service on that day. Was it just a drop in the ocean? How much did we really help? How could we better support this community? We will continue to ponder these questions.
Leadership training permeated the trip, directly and indirectly. Learning to surf presented students with many challenges. Perseverance was essential, as was patience. Kayaking in twin kayaks required teamwork, communication and coordination, as did raft building. Punctuality was another leadership attribute targeted.
In the Leadership and Service programmes across the school, we will continue to seek out opportunities for our students to apply the Harrow’s leadership attributes and to live out the motto of “Leadership for a Better World.”