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Foundation schools showcase PL Inspires Challenge entries

Pupils from Dixons Brooklands Academy selected by a judging panel, including players from the club’s Academy, to represent the Foundation at the regional stage of the challenge.

| by Nathan Thomas
Groups of participants from Manchester United Foundation partner schools descended on Old Trafford recently to present their proposed entries for the Premier League Inspires Challenge. As part of the challenge, ten groups representing our schools from Greater Manchester, Carlisle and Northern Ireland had devised social action initiatives to benefit the communities in which they live.

The participants covered a wide variety of social issues including environmentalism, health, community support for the vulnerable and more, as they aimed to impress the assembled judging panel enough to be picked to represent the Foundation at the regional stage of the challenge.

Joining Foundation staff members on the panel was four players from the club’s esteemed Academy: Finley McAllister, James Nolan, Jack Kingdon and Malachi Sharp – enjoying their first experience supporting the Foundation.

“I’ve been so impressed with the presentations and how engaged the kids are with their projects – it was really inspiring,” Under-18s midfielder Finley said. “Choosing the winner was really tough!”

“I’m from Salford, and I know how important the Foundation is to the community, so I was delighted to be able to help out for the first time. The four of us were really keen to get involved and support”

The judges went on to select a group from Dixons Brooklands Academy in Wythenshawe as the standout entry. Their idea was to produce an e-book entitled “The Green Collection” which would feature short stories aimed at children aged 7 and under to educate and engage them in issues around climate change and the environment.

“We are so, so excited to have been selected for our idea and to represent the Foundation!” one of the winning students, Ella, said.

“At our school we’ve been part of the Eco Group for a while and we felt it was important to target an age group that might not be as aware as we are about this issue, hopefully inspiring the same passion that we have in the next generation.

“It’s amazing to have the opportunity to now go on and develop this idea as part of the PL Inspires Challenge.”

The group took inspiration from the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) where a “Together For Our Planet” educational programme was launched to encourage conversation on climate change in schools.

Lee Caldwell, the Foundation’s school partnership officer at Dixons Brooklands Academy, commended the students on their innovative idea and the difference it could make.

“This idea is very different to what has been presented in previous years, which I think is what made it stand out to the judges,” Lee said. “In their research, the students learned that the early years of a child’s life are crucial in terms of fostering potential passions and interests for later life. By targeting this young age group with their book, the impact on engagement in environmentalism for future generations could be massive.

“They want to do it in a way that doesn’t scare the children – as we know that this issue is a daunting one – but is fun, helps them learn about the planet and how to make positive contributions. It’s an exciting opportunity for the group to develop this idea with the support of the Foundation and the Premier League.”

The group will now go on to represent the Reds at a
virtual development workshop led by the Premier League, before attending a regional celebration event at the end of the season.

Well done to all the schools who submitted an entry into this year’s challenge.