Sir Richard Branson, Sam Branson and the teaAfter a gruelling, yet hugely successful first challenge in 2014, the Virgin Strive Challenge 2016 will see a core team of twenty, hike 90 km into Northern Italy, cycle to the Southern tip of Italy, swim to Sicily, mountain bike to the foothills of Mount Etna before running a half-marathon to the summit of the infamous volcano (and weather depending, paragliding off the top). The core team will be joined by 300 striver's across the different legs.
The brainchild of Sam Branson and his cousin Noah Devereux, VSC 2014 team included Sir Richard Branson, Jack Whitehall, Marion Bartoli, Ade Adepitan, Natalie Imbruglia and two ex-gang leaders from London, amongst many others. Using human power alone, the team tackled three marathons, a row across the channel, a 1,000 km cycle, and a 7 day hike before scaling the Matterhorn. Along the way, the team faced everything from severe blisters to dehydration, culminating in a dramatic helicopter rescue from the Summit of the Matterhorn on the final day.
At double the distance, the 320 Virgin Strive Challenge 2016 participants and core team, will once again be made up of a diverse group of people, all passionate about driving change and making a difference to the lives of young people in the UK. From ex-gang leader, poet and activist Karl Lokko to Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, all have strived in some way in business, sport or life and all believe in the Big Change philosophy that "Growth happens when you step out of your comfort zone to achieve bold ambitions. Magic happens when you do it with others."
Core Team member and a Big Change Founder, Sam Branson explains the motivation behind the challenge "It is a 'moment in time' that brings together a community of change makers, who are passionate about breaking the negative cycle so prevalent around young people today. We held our first Virgin Strive Challenge in 2014, raising over £750,000 for ground breaking youth projects in Britain. VSC 2016 will continue that journey."
"We plan to raise £1.5 million for Big Change to support projects that are disrupting the system and culture around young people so they can develop a 'growth mind-set', as opposed to a debilitating 'fixed mind-set'. These projects concentrate on giving young people the tools to build belief in themselves and develop the ability to deal with setbacks."
"We also want to bring focus to this important part of young people's development. I am incredibly proud of all we have achieved so far, for young people in the UK and I can't wait to get started on the next stage of our journey."
A recent study carried out by think tank Demos, funded by Big Change, found a worrying lack of life confidence among 16 year olds. The report found that, compared to 14-year-olds, final year students are almost half as likely to be feeling happy in their life (33% vs. 60%), and considerably more likely to be feeling very unhappy (14% vs. 2%)
Three times more likely to think their school is preparing them to succeed only in exams, rather than in life (31% vs. 10.5%) 24% more likely to feel like a failure if they don't succeed at a task (68% vs. 46%). Much more likely to feel their teachers (13% vs 5%) and parents (10% vs 1%) don't think they'll be successful.
It also found similar, worrying discrepancies between boys and girls, with female students less likely to report feeling happy (39% vs. 50%) and more prone to feeling like failures (68% to 49%).
Sir Richard adds "Often young people get a bad press - by failing to show a fundamental belief in the UK's young people, there's a real danger the negativity around them becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to break this by actually doing something to show that they are (and should be!) our priority, our passion, and our inspiration. That's what Virgin Strive Challenge 2016 is all about. Virgin is really proud to support the challenge and the work of Big Change. Personally, I can't wait to get on my bike, brush up my running skills and hit the water with my son, daughter Holly and all of the VSC Strivers to raise funds and awareness for important and innovative youth Projects working in the UK today."