Young ambition on the Elthorne Estate
When young entrepreneur Shawdon Smith returned home to the Elthorne estate after University, he was concerned to see that few of the estate’s young people had positive role models amongst older residents.
Determined to make a difference, he founded the Ambitious Academy, an innovative community based programme dedicated to helping the young people of Elthorne Estate develop and improve their lives.
“I felt that there wasn’t anyone left but me and a few others to look out for the younger kids on the estate,” says Shawdon. “The estate has been known for being very deprived, especially when I was growing up. The estate has changed alot and I think now is the time we can really make a difference.”
Shawdon - pictured in blue shirt - with AA students provided food donations to those in need over the Christmas period.
Operating out of the estate’s community centre, the academy provides training, internships, mentoring, day trips, guidance and support, to help young people develop their skills, confidence and self-esteem.
“My main focus is ensuring that all the young people have a goal, that we – the ambitious team – know what they want to do in the future and can help them take the steps to get there” he says.
AA participant Georgia Nash secured a Co-Producer part time role with Mary's Youth Club
Shawdon and his team aim to instil positive peer pressure to support young people to strive for a better future and avoid becoming victims of violence and making negative choices.
They believe that educating them outside of the classroom and encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone can be inspirational; inviting guest speakers from various backgrounds to share their success stories and providing them with an opportunity to network with professionals.
With strong connections in the area, including Arsenal in the Community, London Village Network and Mary’s Youth Club, the academy can create more opportunities for its young people to participate in further development programmes.
One example being the Arsenal Kicks initiative, a national programme created to help young people keep away from anti-social behaviour and adopt positive influences.
Ambitious Academy recently registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC), dedicated to providing a service that benefit’s the community.
Visit the Ambitious Academy website to find out more.
You can also watch a video Shawdon explaining more on the Academy’s partnership with Arsenal in the Community here.