Alternative graduation for local youngsters

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A group of Peterhead-based teenagers have graduated from an innovative programme that has been designed to help them reach their potential.

The six young people have taken part in Transition Extreme’s first Aberdeenshire Alternative Academy and graduated from the programme in an evening ceremony held at Arbuthnot House.

Graduating from the programme were Simone Smith (aged 15), Andrew Strachan (16), Neal Middlemas (17), Nicole Forbes (18), Lewis Stewart (15), and Darryl Urquhart (16).

Established and run by Transition Extreme in collaboration with the School of Health Sciences at Robert Gordon University (RGU), the Alternative Academy is a 12-week full-time training programme for young people aged between 16 and 18 who are currently, or at risk of becoming, disengaged from traditional forms of education.

The programme uses adrenaline sports as a catalyst to reengage participants with education, increasing their confidence, motivation and employability.

Alongside opportunities to gain new skills in climbing, BMX, skateboarding or in-line skating, students undertake modules that prepare them for their next step including CV writing and interview skills, community awareness, and additional awards and qualifications. The Peterhead cohort represents the sixth Alternative Academy programme - but the first outside of Aberdeen - that Transition Extreme has delivered over the last two years since its inception in January 2010.

The Peterhead academy, which was part funded by Aberdeenshire Council, was a pilot for a mobile version of the programme, which is hoped to be rolled out across the region. The graduation ceremony, which was largely organised by the students themselves, provided an opportunity for them to share their experiences from the 12 week programme with an audience comprising family, friends, staff members, partner agencies and funders.