The achievements of 80 students from Chichester district schools were celebrated at an awards ceremony on Thursday at The Weald and Downland Living Museum, Singleton.
The event was the finale to the Be the Change programme, an initiative co-founded by Graham Moore, of metamoorephosis, and Gary Peters, of LoveLocalJobs.com, which aims to boost the aspirations and job prospects of young people aged between 13 and 14.
During the last six months the students have been taking part in a series of activities designed to improve hope, happiness, confidence, relationships, to change negative behaviour and to introduce them to career opportunities.
The students were congratulated and awarded certificates by the volunteer business guides alongside the Be the Change team.
As the students received certificates and Be the Change ribbons, they applauded each other and reflected on the past six months.
Many students stood in front of the gathered audience and revealed their feelings about moving forward with the skills they have learnt.
Jasper Bos, global director people experience at The Body Shop, said: “We are so grateful and proud to have supported the Be the Change programme.
“I know I speak for all of our colleagues who participated from The Body Shop, that it has been a privilege and an immensely rewarding experience to support the students through this life changing programme.
“A core belief at The Body Shop is that everyone has the right to the opportunity to fulfil their true individual potential (to be at their best).
“Observing these students connect with this potential and start to exude the belief that they can shape better lives for themselves has been a tremendously uplifting experience.”
Co-founder, Graham Moore, of metamoorephosis, said: “It has been an incredible journey not just for these amazing young people but for everyone who has been involved – the teachers, the business volunteers and ourselves.
“Over the last few months we have been inspired by the way in which the students have engaged with us and their peers and as a result have become happier, more confident in their abilities and more excited about their futures.”
Neil Topley, assistant head at Bishop Luffa School in Chichester, said: “It’s made the students realise that they have to do something to change and be happy.
“Nobody will do it for them.
“There is support there but they have to want to accept it.
“We’ve talked a lot about making the most of opportunities and to stop filling other people’s bins.”
The students come from six secondary schools in the area: Chichester Free School, Chichester High School, Bourne Community College, Midhurst Rother College, Bishop Luffa and The Academy Selsey.
Be the Change Chichester, founded by Graham Moore of metamoorephosis and LoveLocalJobs.com, has been sponsored by The Body Shop (headline sponsor), Chichester District Council, Chichester College, Petworth Vision and Vitacress.