Norwich High School’s Inspiring Changemakers online conference was bigger and better than ever
More than 25,000 young people from across the UK joined Norwich High School for Girls for its Inspiring Change Makers Summit 2020. The online conference, the first ever staged by the GDST school, followed on from its pioneering Inspiring Females programme, first created four years ago. This year’s event reached more young women than ever before from across the state and independent sector – and was supported by an illustrious roll call of exciting women leaders from chef Prue Leith to engineer extraordinaire Yewande Akinola.
The original plan had been to stage this year’s event at Norwich Football Club after the resounding success of last year’s summit at Chelsea Football Club. But when the country went into lockdown, Norwich High had to think again and the online conference took shape.
Kirsty von Malaisé, Headmistress of Norwich High and founder of the award-winning Inspiring Females programme, said: “We wanted to create this event to continue our mission to inspire, educate and empower young people, at a time when young people might need it the most. So many are facing a range of challenges, from students in Year 11 and 13, who have questions about their futures after having examinations cancelled, to those at the beginning of their senior school years who may be missing out on so many rich extra-curricular and pastoral opportunities.”
Girls and staff together created a website, inviting previous and new exciting speakers to participate. What was not anticipated was how the event would grow, reaching an increasing number of speakers and an ever longer queue of schools requesting to join up with only a day to go.
As well as Prue Leith and Yewande Akinola, participants included Olympic hockey champion Kate Richardson-Walsh; Tram Anh Nguyen, Co-founder of the Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship; Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive of the Diana Award; England netballer Ama Agbeze, and Sunday Times Style Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy.
“A real silver lining for us at this time has been the good will and kindness of our speakers who have all volunteered their support to deliver such a broad selection of sessions – keep fit, meditation, yoga, keynotes, interactive sessions, careers talks, one-to-one Q&As and live panel sessions, charity and social enterprise awareness, and so much more – all shaped into a full day’s programme for young people to engage in,” said von Malaisé.”
On the day, students logged on to the website to hear an address from GDST CEO Cheryl Giovannoni.
And then the various pre-recorded talks from the participants.
Those who took part were left inspired by the day.
One student said: “We can all be change makers if we put your minds into it.” And another said: “I learnt how to know my own strengths and use them effectively to improve myself and my performance.”