"Our first ever Believe & Achieve Day took place in Cheltenham last Thursday (31 May), and to our relief, the day ended with smiles all round. After weeks of meticulous co-ordination, preparation and last-minute shopping trips, the day was a brilliant mix of fun activities, combined with top tips for coping with stress and change and exercises in mindfulness."
"Our Believers & Achievers travelled from far and wide, with some joining us from as far as Bradford – in particular, one couple started their day at the ungodly hour of 5am to come along. We were also joined by our lovely Young Ambassador, Fiona Yelland."
"After a warm welcome, our day got started with a session led by our co-ordinator, Becky, on stress and what it does to our bodies. We had fun seeing how long, between two teams, we could keep a bunch of balloons from touching the floor. As the challenge went on and more balloons got added, it became more and more difficult and showed how our stress levels can become elevated when our bodies are in ‘fight and flight’ mode."
"Together, our Community Support Manager Cheryl and I further demonstrated how stress can get the better of you, by playing a game of ‘beat the buzzer’ – where you can’t let the metal touch the crazy wire maze. I’d played it many times before and I was feeling surprisingly calm that morning - I smugly thought it would be a doddle. But the pressure of an audience made it very tricky!"
"Cheryl led a session about change and how to cope with it. We were encouraged to think about some changes that have happened in our lives over the last 2 years and Fiona gave us all an inspiring account of the changes she has experienced following meningitis. I was wowed by her determination. She’s turned a terrible experience into something positive – you can read her story on the Believe & Achieve Facebook page."
"Later, we divided into two groups and set off for a stroll around the venue. The groups were asked to pay particular attention to the sounds, sights and smells that surrounded us. This did get a few of us giggling, especially when we spotted a random rubber duck in a hedge that we found out had been planted by Becky – sneaky! But it was a great exercise that encouraged us to really notice what was around us and be present in that moment."
"We took on another rather tricky challenge of making the tallest towers possible out of newspaper - in pairs, and then again, as a group, but this time, with aids such as scissors and sellotape. Not as easy as it may sound!"
"Continuing with the mindfulness theme, after a spot of lunch, Dawn, our Community Support Officer for the South West of England, taught us some great breathing techniques in our chill out room *queue the giggling again*."
"The final session saw us think about a plan of action for the future and we created vision boards of the changes we’d like to see in our lives. I particularly enjoyed this session and may have got slightly carried away with my own board and grand ideas of travel and adventure. But it’s good to dream big – and why not?"
"It was a super day! Thank you to everyone who helped to make the day such a great success, especially Becky. And thank you to our wonderful Believers & Achievers for coming - without them, the day wouldn’t have been possible!"
"Now to get our heads down again and plan our next Believe & Achieve event…."