Friday, April 18, 2008

The Challenge Team

Local action as appropriate. The Challenge Team is a response to the anti-Catholic sex education that is nearly always found in Catholic schools, let alone non-Catholic ones. They discuss relationships, the importance of committment, and the value of chastity. This is not ideal: it embeds the notion of whole-class (not one-to-one) discussions on highly personal matters, and also the taking over of this aspect of education from parents. However, it is the only way for an orthodox organisation to reach children in schools and in the context of the actual situation in most schools they can do a lot of good. They are a resource Catholic parents should know about and get into their schools.

From CFNews: Sue Relf of the Challenge Team emails this report : 'Challenge Team has had another astonishing year. Two terms of touring have taken place - seven weeks in October and November and eight weeks from January to March. Ashburnham Place in Sussex hosts us for our training and preparation week. Twice we arrived at Ashburnham - in September and in January ten days or so before the first school was booked - with girls ready to tour this time, but no boys signed up. Both times we prayed (we had been praying and scouring the country for months) and both times young men joined the teams in time. The young adult team members were exceptional once again. Clare Horberry and Becca Sullivan (both 18) were joined in the autumn by Andrew Palmer (18) and Paul Thomas (23) and in January by Martin Yates (29). (This team was only three in number, but produced a very good presentation.)

They visited Manchester, Liverpool and area, the Isle of Man, Scotland, Bristol, Bath and area in the autumn term and East and West Sussex, Hants and the Isle of Wight, Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham, Ipswich, St Neots (Cambs), Stafford, Oxon, Hereford, Glos, Cheddar and finally Croydon and London, in the spring term.

In all they visited 90 schools and 7 youth groups, making a total of 142 presentations to over 17,500 teenagers. Of the schools, 33 schools were visited for the first time and the remaining 57 were return visits. 98% of the schools that fed back have asked for a visit either next year or the year after. Nearly 30 kind and hospitable families gave hospitality as the team travelled from place to place. The number of pupils in schools up and down the UK that have now witnessed a presentation since the beginning of 2004 has now reached 60,500. Twenty seven volunteer team members have been recruited. Local organisers have been a key factor in the opening up of new schools in new areas and in organising local hospitality.

We are now getting used to brilliant feedback. One pupil wrote in an email: 'I recently had an assembly by the 'Challenge Team' at my school and I really found it inspirational. I really respect you people for doing what you are doing, how you respect your virginity and seem to cherish it. As a teenager currently in a world where it is the single goal to 'get laid' as it is commonly said. For a while I too was among the crowd of people who sought solely after the prospect of sex, until I heard what you had to say. It really changed my view on sex, virginity, marriage and even girls! I really thank you for this, and as much as I doubt that it will be possible for me to keep my virginity until my day of marriage mainly because of the sheer colossal amount of pressure on me to lose it, I do hope that I can follow in your footsteps as much as teen-agely possible.'

Others emailed: 'You did a presentation in my school just the other day which was very informative and made me think a lot.'

'I watched your presentation at school. It seemed to make sense.'

'I think everyone should learn about these things.'

Teachers said: 'We felt it was good to explain to the students that there is an alternative lifestyle choice; students found it 'funny' and 'enjoyable'.

'Very worthwhile presentation. All students were engaged. The presenters held an excellent rapport with the group and involved many without embarrassing anyone.'

'As usual a well presented and challenging hour full of energy. We look forward to next year.'
'Very impressed. Put over an unpopular message in an engaging and thought provoking way. It made a lot of the students think and ask questions.'

We had an added problem this year as none of the presenters were drivers. However, we managed to recruit 12 individuals at different times who passed the team around! We purchased a vehicle, a Ford Galaxy, in January 07. This has been a great success.

A donation from a Trust of £25,000 per year has enabled Challenge Team to employ two part time administrators, one based in Manchester and one in Eastbourne. Tracy and Shirley organise the tours. Debs Fidler has been employed as Team Leader since September 06. She has made a great difference to the quality of the presentation as she travels with the team in the early stages and coaches them and encourages them en route.

The tours in the autumn term 08 and spring 09 have been plotted. The dates are as follows:

29th Sept to 24th October (4 weeks) - Manchester and the north west
3rd November - Isle of Man
10th November - Scotland
17th November - Bath and Bristol, Torquay
24th November - Shaftesbury and Dorset

19th January - East and West Sussex
26th January - Isle of Wight, Hants
2nd February - Oxford, Brimingham, Worcs, Hereford, Staffs
9th February - Notts
23rd February - Leics
2nd March - Ipswich, Cambs
9th March - Kent, London and Croydon
16th March - London and Croydon

The numbers of schools requesting bookings has grown steadily, so that we are reaching one team's capacity. From September 09 we are planning for enough growth to have a northern team and a southern team, both touring simultaneously for two terms.

Our next task is to recruit new team members for September. Two young women (aged 18 and 19) have signed up. We are seeking male young volunteers for the adventure of a lifetime! The travelling and touring makes Challenge Team a tough assignment, but every volunteer has said what a life changing experience it has been for them and how worthwhile they have found it.

Information about the gap year opportunity is on our website and can be printed off. Challenge Team is also seeking new local organisers who are able to approach schools in their areas and help with accommodation while the team is in the district. Brochures are available from the office: The next round of invitations to schools to make advance bookings are already going out.

It is amazing what a small bunch of 'little' people can do with limited resources when they put their minds to it. Challenge Team has been a real team effort. So many people give their time and resources - a huge debt of thanks is owed.

Exciting times are ahead!

1 comment:

bernadette said...

THANKYOU ! This is an answer to prayer.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen