Pupils from Atherton High School have been crowned winners of Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s virtual Premier League Inspires challenge.
The virtual event, hosted by the Community Trust, saw pupils from Atherton High School and Up Holland High School present social action ideas to a panel of judges around the subject of improving young people’s mental health at school.
Judging the competition were Wigan Athletic players Scott Smith and Adam Long, Assistant Head of Academy, Jake Campbell, Safeguarding Officer, Genna Banks, Education Support Officer at the Premier League, Lee Collier and former Latics scholar Joe McWilliam.
Scott, who took part in a Premier League Enterprise event with the Community Trust back in 2015 was impressed with the efforts of both sets of pupils.
He said: “I thought both presentations were very good and a lot of thought has clearly gone into the ideas presented to us and the pupils showed very good knowledge on their subjects.
“We had a difficult decision in picking a winner but a big well done to the group from Atherton whose inclusion of a personal experience was very brave but something that deserves high praise and will only benefit others going forward when talking about mental health issues.”
Ran in partnership with the PFA and Prince’s Trust, the Inspires programme aims to combat issues around pupils not reaching their full potential and give them that extra bit of input to help them get on in school and in their outside lives.
Lee Collier added: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to be involved with the challenge and be part of the judging panel.
“It was great to see the commitment by both schools in the development of their social action project around mental health. Mental health has historically been a taboo subject amongst school children, but it was fantastic to see the end product of both schools in their presentation.
“Both Atherton High School and Up Holland High School approached and presented their projects in a mature and feasible manner, making justifications for their social actions projects with well researched and thought of rationales.
“It was incredibly hard to pick a winner, as they were both excellent! Well done to both schools. I am looking forward to see the social impact in which the two projects will have on their community.”
The winners from Atherton High School looked at providing a safe space - through a youth club in school - for pupils and parents to talk about their feelings and share experiences with each other about mental health.
Pupils will now work with Trust staff on their project and go on to represent Latics at a virtual celebration with the Premier League later this year.
Poppy Shepherd, 14, from the school said: “Through our idea we wanted to create an easy way for people to come together, talk about mental health and give parents an understanding of what it is.
“People find socialising and coming together as a community as an easier way to get rid of these emotions so it was something we wanted to do.”
Fellow pupil Jasmine Jade Marland, 14, added: “Winning the Premier League Challenge proves to us that what we’re doing can be really helpful to people.
“I’ve struggled with mental health in the past and being able to recover from these issues and help others, will help me even more get to where I used to be before everything happened.”
Through the programme staff from the Trust have worked with over 100 pupils from eight secondary schools and two engagement centres in the past 12 months providing support which combines group mentoring, team work, additional qualifications and social action programmes.
To find out more about the Premier League Inspires programme, please email Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Education Coordinator, Dale Wood, on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01942 318090.