BUSINESS leaders came together for inspirational activities designed to improve the life chances of young people.

The event at the American Express Community Stadium at Falmer was an emotional occasion.

Volunteers from Brighton’s business community were touched by the stories from 13 and 14-year-olds from Longhill High School, Rottingdean, who stood up and talked about their life experiences and day-to-day challenges.

The Be The Change event was organised and managed by

Supporters including Southern Water, Focus Group and Cobb Digital provided volunteer business guides to support the students on the day.

Nearly 100 students and 25 business volunteers took part in activities that focused on happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability and many of them spoke about the personal issues they feel are holding them back.

The aim of Be The Change is to encourage young people to aspire to a brighter future and discuss the issues they need to overcome to achieve their goal with the support of professionals from the business community.

It wasn’t just the youngsters who opened their hearts.

Founders of the organisation and volunteers from the supporting businesses told of their own struggles at school, how they overcame them and the steps they took to become a success in their field.

The idea for Be The Change came from Gary Peters, founder of He said: “Year 9 is when young people make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives – from where they fit within their peer groups, to what subjects they will study for their GCSEs.

“Our job is to help them recognise and build on their strengths and to give them the tools, knowledge and confidence to make the right decisions.”

Rosanna Farrar, head of community engagement at, said: “We have once again been overwhelmed by the support of our partners from the business community and the enthusiasm of the volunteers involved today.

“Be The Change is providing an opportunity for businesses to engage with their future workforce and build awareness of their employer brand among local young people so they have a far clearer view of the local opportunities available to them.”

Graham Moore, of humanutopia and metamoorphosis who led the session, said he and the team felt honoured to have played a part in such a successful and inspirational day.

He said: “The business advisers from the Brighton business community were true ambassadors for the event and supported the young people in a deep and genuine way.

“The stars of the day, however, were without doubt the teenagers themselves who, despite facing many and varied challenges in their lives were motivated and determined to overcome adversity to make the most of their lives.”

Jo Ellis, head of Year 9 from Longhill High School, said: “Brilliant day.

“To see students feeling safe and secure, being honest and open with their peers about their own insecurities was amazing.

“I have never seen so many of these students engaged and listening so intently all day.

“I have been inspired as a teacher by the skill demonstrated by the Be The Change team – they really did have a huge impact on every young person in the room.

“I would definitely recommend Be The Change for all Year 9 students.”

Be The Change programmes have been running for the past three years in other parts of the country including East Sussex, Coastal West Sussex, Crawley and Leicester.

To find out more about Be the Change, visit