School Leavers take on ‘GroundForce’ Challenge

This summer, a group of 11 school leavers have set their own 2012 legacy by giving up four weeks of their summer holiday to give something back to the community. The students have been taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS), a government scheme aimed at developing the skills and potential of 16 and 17 year-olds. This year they teamed up with Weymouth College to tackle am ambitious garden project.

After two weeks of camping and taking part in adventurous water and land based activities such as kayaking, surfing mountain boarding and abseiling – all aimed at building teamwork and leadership skills and cementing the group; the group decided to renovate and refurbish a sensory garden at The Ridgeway Day Care Centre in Weymouth. The centre caters for adults with learning difficulties and the NCS students re-designed their garden space to have five different sections; one for every sense, allowing all service users to interact with it.

Assistant Manager at the centre Sally James said about the work of the NCS students: “It benefits us as it gives us the opportunity to start looking at a space that we didn’t have the money or the time to change.’’ At the opening the opening of the garden it was evident how much the new garden meant to service users, as finally they have a space to sit in and interact with the plants and environment.

Talking about the four weeks he spent on the NCS programme, Lewis Ward, one of the students said: “The last four weeks have been amazing, meeting new people, doing new activities and getting to see the faces of the Ridgeway Centre residents when we showed them the finished project.”

The NCS scheme is available to young people from all backgrounds and brings together those who might otherwise not have met. Young people will get the chance to participate in outdoor activities, meet new people and have the chance to give something back. It gives teenagers skills that are essential later on in life such as leadership and team building, whilst getting the chance to put their stamp on the community and create their own legacy.

Local South Dorset MP, Richard Drax has supported the students and their campaign by visiting them at the College and going over aims and achievements and their own future plans.

If any 16 year olds are interested in participating in future NCS programs, please contact Alex Sergison at or call 01305 761100. For more information about courses available at Weymouth College, please visit: or email