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Students take on Amazon Challenge in aid of the Samaritans

Students take on Amazon Challenge in aid of the Samaritans

11 February 2019

Barking & Dagenham College is being challenged by Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop an innovative digital solution to promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of young people.

The live project is being run by the Career Colleges Trust in partnership with AWS and The Samaritans. The judging panel also has representatives from London Sport, Marylebone Cricket Club, and UK Active.

The Barking & Dagenham College students are being joined by other Career College students from Barking & Dagenham, BMet, Coleg Gwent and Westminster Kingsway, all of which have digital Career Colleges.

The aim of the initiative is to give the group of 16-19-year-olds an opportunity to work on a real industry brief while supporting and raising awareness of this important issue for The Samaritans. The Samaritans will be visiting each of the Colleges to help young people with the topic, and in particular giving guidance on how to deal with the growing issue of male suicide, the biggest killer of males under the age of 45.

The full project brief was unveiled at a special all-day session, recently held at AWS HQ in central London. Students heard from each of the organisations involved and were given valuable insight into the health and sports tech industry and the many technologies currently being developed.

The eight-week challenge was revealed and the timeline for the project explained. Students will be working in groups of six on one of three proposals. These proposals were chosen from over 500 ideas submitted by Career College students in the first stage of the project.

Welcoming students to the briefing at AWS HQ, Digital Director at the Career Colleges Trust, Julia Von Klonowski, said:

“This is the third year we have run a live project for our students in partnership with AWS and I am delighted that The Samaritans and the other partners have joined us this year.

“Working on such a worthwhile challenge is an amazing opportunity for Career College students. Not only does it offer the first-hand experience of the real world of work, it gives them access to industry experts and insight into the many jobs and opportunities available within the digital sector and beyond.

“Our project theme of Wellbeing is hugely important at a time when mental health issues in our society are increasing. The use of technology to promote emotional and physical wellbeing among young people is an important approach and I look forward to seeing the many exciting and innovative ideas that our students come up with.”

The task must be managed and run in exactly the same way as any other ‘real’ industry project. Students will have two project meetings with the client during the eight weeks, focusing on design, finance and the project plan.

Representatives from Career Colleges Trust, AWS and The Samaritans will sit on the project board, joined by representatives from UK Active, London Sport and the Marylebone Cricket Club on the judging panel.

The student teams will return to AWS’ offices in March to present their solutions, with prizes to be awarded to the winning projects.

Barking & Dagenham College students Sophie Habberley and Precious Serwaa-Kusi were both named as one of the winners in the first round of the competition; Precious, aged 18 from Barking said:

“Being involved with this project will help me increase my confidence. It has given me the opportunity to talk to people I usually don’t speak too. The best thing about being involved in this project is working with different people, learning about each other and interacting with one and another.”

Chris Hayman, Head of the UK & Ireland Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, said:

“We are excited to be supporting the Career Colleges Trust and its students for a third year, with the aim to inspire the next generation of digital technology experts in the UK"

"Introducing young people to innovative cloud technologies is critical for both today’s workforce and the workforce of the future."

"We know from the previous two years just how talented and creative Career College students are and we can’t wait to see what innovative ideas they develop to support The Samaritans on this very important issue of wellbeing.”

Samaritans Service Development Manager, Karen Harvey, said:

“It’s crucial that young people have the opportunity to shape resources that are aimed at their age group, as they know best what will work. This project is a great opportunity for Career College students to explore how technology can support their peers. Samaritans have developed resources in consultation with young people and we are excited to be part of this project and to see the innovative ideas that are being developed.”

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