Inspiring Change Makers Summit

Thursday 21 May was a phenomenal day of inspiring talks and activities as part of Inspiring Change Makers Online. Despite not being able to gather in person, this year’s Summit provided by the Inspiring Females Programme at Norwich High School GDST, was a hugely successful event. Pupils from over 75 schools accessed the Summit, where they could choose between sessions from more than 45 amazing speakers who shared inspiring TED-style talks, insightful careers-focussed presentations, Q&As – you could even start the day with a breakfast designed by Prue Leith and a choice of HIIT, yoga or other energising class to activate your mind and body. The sessions were all designed to inspire, engage and empower our young people. There was something for everyone, whether you are interested in diplomacy, sport, creative arts or law. The speakers also discussed practical methods for harnessing your passions, achieving your goals and being the best you can be. I defy anyone to have watched the sessions and not have been inspired!

Chief Executive of the GDST, Cheryl Giovannoni, launched the day with a focus on successful female world leaders, who have been particularly inspiring during this pandemic, and closed with a call to action – to just go for it, to “own your dreams and make them a reality. Never be too afraid to tackle the things you want to do in the world”.

Summaries of a selection of sessions:

Sara Milne Rowe, Founder of Coaching Impact Ltd taught us about our three brains: Human (makes sense of words and looks for relevance in daily lives), Dog (emotional responses appropriate to keeping us alive) and Reptile (oldest, usually out of consciousness) and how they work together – as well as how we can get them to work well for us. She explained how to be self taught for action – including sleep, hydration, exercise, diet. She focused on physiology and using practices for body and breath, and self-talk mantras for energy and action outside of a stressful situation so that you have the tools when you need them.

Yewande Akinola MBE, a design engineer at Laing O’Rourke, discussed our inter-connectedness irrespective of background and the importance of finding what you are passionate about. In 2020 we are even more connected globally and the role of changemakers is very exciting – to be problem solvers, innovators, have a purpose, creativity, and push boundaries. She encouraged us to be brave and call out negative behaviour or systems that we see.

Nadia Finer, Founder of Shy & Might, talked about overcoming shyness under the umbrella of “shycology”, reminding us that there is a place for shy people, even though we are presented with a picture of success being loud. Cognitive diversity is best for businesses and shy people should remember that they have special powers – often listening more than talking, being thoughtful, empathetic and kind, so when they do actually speak it’s usually because they have something important to say. She encouraged everyone to stop the negative self talk and trying to be like other people or worrying about what other people think. Reframe your own fear as a buzz!

Lorraine Candy, Sunday Times Luxury Content Director, discussed the importance of transferable skills, and that there a many different paths to careers. She stated that she can tell when interviewees have arranged internships of their own accord and where they have been organised for them and how key it is to read and re-read all applications to ensure they are tailored to each job! Diversity of thought is often more important than any other qualification.

Psychologist, Natasha Tiwari, gave us some fascinating advice and fact, such as: did you know there are cells in your intestine that are used to help make decisions and that the mind is a metaphor? She advocates seeing imperfection as what makes you wonderful and that if people say things which hurt, it’s OK. Talk, think and then remember they’re wrong. She encouraged everyone to bring themselves to a place where they are comfortable being confident. Purposeful breath could be a medicine for confidence as it has a chemical impact. She ended with a powerful statement that “everything you need to be the hero of your life is already inside you”.

Rachel-Abbie Appiah, University Student and Entrepreneur, advocated productivity as power, detailing how important it is to organise your life; manage your time and have fun. She called us all to ask “What would I regret not doing in a year’s time?” and start it today! Genevieve Raghu, Artistic Director for Into Opera, explored the benefits of creative subjects at school as they nurture you to think creatively and be confident in your own voice. Oa Hackett, Founder of LittleLifts, shared her personal story of beating cancer and starting her own charity. She Be bold and brave and overcome current situation with positive change.

Inspiring Females also raised money for the Cavell Nurses’ Trust on the day: https://www.inspiringfemales.org.uk/cavell-nurses-trust

Pupil Voice:

  • “I learnt that I don’t need to have a fixed plan for my life ahead of me; it is allowed to change.”
  • “I learnt how to know my own strengths and use them effectively to improve myself and my performance.”
  • “We can all be change makers if we put your minds into it.”
  • “Shyness is a superpower!”
  • “I’ve found new ways to improve my productivity.”
  • “I’ve learnt that mistakes are okay, in fact, they’re amazing! It’s important to remember that no one becomes successful through immediate triumph; they’ll have failed many times before. Fail = First Attempt In Learning.”
  • “The meditation/breathing exercise that can help you become super confident in stressful times.”
  • “I learnt that you don’t have to go down the traditional route to be successful in life..”
  • “Be like a chameleon, don’t be afraid of change.”
  • “I should try and leave the world in a better way than before.”
  • “To believe in me.”