Helena's getting back on her bike for Step!!!

After not using my bike for a long distance for well over 10 years I have decided it is time dust off the cobwebs and get back on my bike to raise funds for Step. On Sunday 13th May I will be taking part in the St Albans Charity Cycle ride cycling 10 miles for the first time in years!!!

I have been blessed to have Step in my life for many years and this is a great opportunity for me to give something back. I've been having an amazing time in my role as schools coordinator since I started in September and am so grateful to be part of this amazing team.

It is a complete privilege to be able to invest time in young people and to be able to share my faith with them. I have had so many highlights since I started that there are too many to mention but a few include the Townsend Yr7 Retreat Day, Ultimate Questions lessons with Yr8 at Marlborough and STAGS Women and Religion lessons.

Step is able to have a massive impact on many young peoples lives and continues to do so year on year working 14 out of the 17 local secondary schools. To achieve this, in the last year, Step has replaced two part time roles with two full time roles and the incremental cost of this is approximately £20,000 a year. It is with this in mind that I take on my challenge to help ensure that Step's fantastic work is able to continue for many generations to come. 

If you are interested in donating please follow the link: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/helenastepcycle

To make things a little more interesting, if I raise:
£500 I will cycle 20 miles in next year's event
£1250 I will cycle 30 miles in next year's event
£2000 I will cycle 40 miles in next year's event.  

Thank you for taking the time to read. I have attached a picture of my hardly used bike for your enjoyment. 

Helena :) 


Ultimate Questions

Over the last half term I have enjoyed being part of and running 13 Ultimate Questions lessons across three different schools. These lessons got the students to think through the biggest questions of life. Such as, Is God real?, Do I have a purpose?, and Is there an afterlife?, along with many more. 

This resulted in some fantastic conversations with students who began to ponder through what they believe and why they believe it. It was fascinating to hear students' different ideas as they varied so much. Some deciding that we have no purpose and there is no point to life, where as others believing that God created and designed us for a purpose. It was a great opportunity to listen to different view points and share some of our own ideas in the process. 

I am really looking forward to the next set of these lessons I have coming up in STAGS after Easter. If you are interested in joining in the fun please do get in touch. 

Helena :) 

Ultimate Questions.jpg

Hello Loreto!

Recently, Loreto College became the latest of the 14 secondary schools in St Albans and Harpenden who have signed up to work with Step.

On 22nd March we delivered our very first session in Loreto: an hour's session with sixth form students on the topic of stress.

 Stress weights

Stress weights

In the midst of all the pressures that young people have to deal with, we wanted to give them time and space to focus on their own wellbeing. We also wanted to equip them with ways to manage stress and anxiety.

One group of students spent the session learning about circles of control, which is all about finding the balance between broadening your influence over things in your life that cause anxiety, and accepting the things you can’t control. They also explored the idea of ourselves as springs and thought about the ‘weights’ or stressors that may be pulling us out of shape.

The other group spent time on a space mat. If you haven’t seen one of our space mats before, it’s made up of four large triangles of coloured material. Each triangle has 3 unique sections with activities to help the students reflect on stress and try out different coping techniques. There's further information about our space mats here, if you'd like to know more.

What I love about the space mat is the freedom it gives students to engage with a topic in their own way. Some decided to work round the mat with friends and others preferred to do the activities by themselves, but everyone got stuck in and hopefully took something useful away from the experience.

It was very exciting to meet the lovely staff at the school and to work with their fabulous students. We hope that this is the start of lots more Step activity in Loreto, so watch this space! 

 Students made paper chains that describe a situation where the future is unknown, their worst case scenario in that situation, and a possible positive solution or outcome

Students made paper chains that describe a situation where the future is unknown, their worst case scenario in that situation, and a possible positive solution or outcome

Introducing Leadership Foundations

On Monday, eighteen Step volunteers and staff spent its mid year team day experiencing the new resource Step has for schools- Leadership Foundations. It has been produced to empower young people to develop into good leaders through introducing some of the key qualities evident in our best leaders.

The Leadership Foundations are a series of modules that can be combined to create a course or club designed to explore different aspects of leadership. The course comprises eight 60 minute modules and has been developed specifically for students.  Modules are designed around some experience-based learning, supported by teaching and discussion.  The course is open to anyone since there is potential for leadership in each and every one of us.

The team experienced several of the modules content including: a card game designed by a local board game designer,  a 'who's line is it anyway' activity driven by wearing different hats, and an elaborate game of bingo which involved them completing team tasks (included taking selfies in Nissan cars).

If you would like to find out more about Leadership Foundations please contact Chris or Charlotte.

The Resurrection - did he or didn't he?

This week, at Sir John Lawes and Nicholas Breakspear we have been exploring the significance of the resurrection story to Christians. The lesson is divided into two parts: the meaning behind the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and a court room type investigation into whether he really resurrected or was it something else...

The students have had fun and been challenged as they have explored the ideas, rediscovered the story and debated the facts. In addition, they got to see their teachers dressed as judges.

Blizzards, tea and life conundrums: my first month at Step

Where does the time go?! It feels as if my first day as a Schools Co-ordinator was about 5 minutes ago, but I have in fact been part of the Step family for a whole month now.

So what have I learnt during my first month in the new job?

1. There are not enough tea drinkers in Christian youth ministry. I’ve met loads of lovely people over the last few weeks, from my new colleagues to volunteers to friends of Step, and am growing increasingly concerned about the general preference for coffee over tea. I’m working hard to convert the Coffee Contingent and will keep you updated on my progress there.

2. It takes more than weather – even a spell of Arctic weather so ferocious that it earns a catchy name – to put a halt to Step’s work.

3. Year 8 students are a fascinating bunch of philosophers. A couple of weeks ago I ran several Ultimate Questions lessons, which gave students the chance to wrestle with conundrums of life, the universe and God. A mind-boggling session, for me as well as for the teenagers!

4. It is absolutely true that no two days (or even hours) in a school are the same.

5. I’m not quite as proficient at Skittleball of Doom as I used to be. I discovered this sad fact during the Year 7 Community Day at Townsend (Helena has written more about the day below) and have determined to train hard in preparation for next year.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next month brings, and rather desperately hoping that it isn’t more blizzards.



Year 7 Worship Lessons in Roundwood Park

Last week the Step team lead the last lesson on the topic of Worship with Year 7 at Roundwood Park. It was wonderful to bring them the opportunity to explore the different ways that Christians worship God. The students and the teachers enjoyed the worship experiences we brought to them and as a team we all were encouraged by the intrigue the students showed. This was the first time the team had met Year 7 and so what a great way to begin their journey with Step!

The first two stations are shown in the images below, For station 1 the students explore the Lords prayer and its use to enable a Christian to join in with a prayer that is said all over the world. Station 2 explores Joy as a vehicle for prayer and praise, they mould Play-Doh to creatively express Joy. 

Townsend Craft Club

Had a lovely lunch time at the Townsend craft club. It was nice to be able to spend sometime getting creative with the students as we created our hammer beads designs. I opted for a very simple design of a rainbow effect (see first picture) but the students were very creative. Some deigning the Bangladesh flag, a pineapple and even sonic the hedgehog. It gave me a great chance to catch up with how the students weeks had been and sadly had to disappoint a few students by telling them I wasn't going to be in their lesson teaching them this week. Very much looking forward to next week when we will be creating clay rabbits and chicks. 

Helena :) 

The Emmaus Centre

The Emmaus Centre is a building dedicated the the chaplaincy work in Nicholas Breakspear School. It has three spaces: a cafe, a counselling room and a prayer room. The cafe is used daily by roughly 18 students and the other two rooms are available through appointment or by requesting some space and time to reflect. It also has its own tarmac area outside with some garden furniture. 

The Emmaus Centre has been used to run the Alpha Course, Step’s Leadership Course, Tough Stuff Course, Chaplaincy sessions, class reflections and gatherings for the Christians in the school. The biggest limitation on this space is staffing rather than opportunity. It would be good to use the space for more of these activities, but we need more volunteers to facilitate this happening. Ideally we would like 3 people in Emmaus every lunchtime. This would enable us to open the cafe, run courses and also keep the prayer room open.

If you would like to contribute games, furniture or resources to improve the students experiences in the Emmaus Centre, please do contact Chris through the contacts page. If you would like to be even more involved and help staff the centre occassionally, please do not hesitate to contact us to find out more of what it would involve.

Sandringham CU Explore Why God is Real

Sandringham's Christian Union, which meet on a Tuesday lunchtime should anyone be interested in joining, have started a series looking at why people believe in God to help them communicate their faith to others, giving a reason for their hope but in a gentle and respectful way (1 Peter 3:15). This week we had a look at creation and how the things God has made reveals a designer. Over the next few weeks we will look at religious experiences, conscience and Christ and how each one of them gives us assurance that God is real. 

Townsend Year 7 Community Day Retreat

We had a fantastic day with the Year 7's at Townsend C of E School last Thursday spending the whole day looking at community with them. They got to explore four workshops through the day. Community Challenge got them to think about what community is and why it is important on a very local level. The Fair-trade lesson gave the students a chance to think about how fair things are between our global communities. Build a Village gave them a chance to be creative and create either a British village or a Zimbabwean village or paint some images of what represent community for them. Which gave them a chance to think about what makes up a community. The final workshop they got involved in was Team Building Games which they thoroughly enjoyed taking part in. 

We spent some time at the beginning and end of the day discussing community in relation to our iMatter themes I am connected and I am responsible. Sharing with the students about God creating Eve as a companion for Adam, that we are connected and part of a community. We also thought about the parable of The Good Samaritan and the message it teaches us about loving our neighbour. Then we linked this with I am responsible, thinking about how we are all responsible for caring for people in our community because we are called to love our neighbour. 

The students thoroughly enjoyed the day with many of them saying they loved competing in the team games and the fair-trade game. One student said, "The session I enjoyed the most was the team games because it was fun to do things in a group rather than on your own." Another said, "The session I enjoyed the most was Community Challenge because I was able to use my imagination."

This day was only possible with the support of a fantastic team of volunteers who worked fabulously with the students all day making every session run smoothly. It was through their dedication and effort that the students were able to have such an enjoyable and valuable enrichment day. 

Below are some of the fantastic pieces of art work the students created in the Build a Village workshop. 

Helena :) 


Townsend Feelin' Good Week Cafe

Had a fab week spending lunch times with the Townsend students thinking about Feelin' Good Week. The students enjoyed making Positive Bracelets, playing games and exploring our Mr Potato Heads resource. When looking at Mr Potato Head with the UV torches the students could see he had unkind words written on him. This then led to discussions about the impact words can have on us. The students particularly enjoyed games of Giant Jenga and building elaborate marble run designs. The photos below illustrate a bit of what we got up to. 

Helena :)


A new Schools Coordinator and a new School

St Albans and Harpenden contain 17 secondary schools which Step believes it would be good to support. Because we have wanted to do a good job, our work in schools has always been limited by our ability to coordinate it properly. With this in mind, we have tried to extend our work in schools through growing our team. 

Last week our newest Schools Coordinator Sara Martin joined us full time. Sara replaced Tim Sandford, who was part time. Considering Sara had more hours than Tim, we approached Loreto College and asked them if we could use some of Sara's hours with them. They have said yes, and we will be starting working with their sixth form next month.

Step now is working with 14 of the 17 local secondary schools. To be affective in all the schools we are supporting we are still looking for many more volunteers to mentor, teach, make drinks, write material, listen and stack chairs. If you would like to volunteer with Step, please contact Terrie to find out more.

Visiting Park Street Baptist Church

At the beginning of Half-Term Helena and I went to visit Park Street Baptist Church, It was great to spend time with this wonderful church family and talk with them about Step.

At the moment we have been teaching a lesson on 'Stress' with year 11's in some of the schools. Helena and I felt it would be great to unpack the lesson and share some of the insights from it as well as which iMatter theme we have been using. It to be able to share the why behind what we have been teaching and invite the church to hear Christian truths shared in a different way. The photo below is a collection of things the church were asked to write in response to the question,   'What three things are you thankful for?', This is something we have been asking Yr11's to ponder in the midst of their studying to gain different perspective. 

One of the Deacons has sent us a lovey comment about our visit, She said, 'I think it gave a great insight into the work STEP does in our local secondary schools and some of the issues you are supporting our young people with.' 

Thanks Park Street family, 

Charlotte Barton :)

Hope and New Beginnings display board update at Townsend

Step is delighted that it has the opportunity to regularly update one of the Townsend C of E School display boards and Helena had an enjoyable time this morning updating its new theme after her Prejudice lesson with Year 9. The theme comes from an assembly Step did at the beginning of term thinking about the start of a New Year and the hopes we may have. The assembly had a strong focus on the power of words and we looked at James 3:5-8 and its vivid description of the power of the tongue. Our hope for the students is that they think about the words they are saying to one another before they use them and that they choose words which build each other up, rather than knock each other down. For sticks can break our bones, but words can break our hearts and if we're not careful can shatter our dreams.