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Positive Outcomes

Rock Challenge®and J Rock™ events encourage young people to make positive life choices and be their best without the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Regularly conducted evaluations and testimonials have also shown proven and evidenced benefits above and beyond these original objectives and these are outlined below:

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

Health is defined as a state of complete mental, physical and social wellbeing. Instilling positive healthy lifestyle messages to young people at an early age is an important part of their growth, improves their current wellbeing and sets habits for the future. Involvement in Rock Challenge®or J Rock™ improves physical health and also enables young people involved to develop a range of life skills and character traits important for personal development. Rock Challenge®is seen by students and teachers alike as a key part of their improved resilience, confidence-building and understanding of teamwork. The initiatives work as deterrents to less desirable behaviour and builds resilience when faced with challenges later in life.

ENGAGEMENT

The reasons why young people may be reluctant learners or disengaged are often complex. Actively targeting engagement at school age ensures that the lives are shaped positively of even the most vulnerable young people. Improved relationships with teachers, attendance in school and reduction of anti-social behaviour are key outcomes reported through involvement with Rock Challenge® and J Rock™ which contribute to the creation of a more productive school environment. The unique concept of creating a performance has also shown to capture the imagination and ignite the thirst for learning amongst a wide variety of students.

COMMUNITY BUILDING

The Foundation works in partnership with various police forces around the UK, humanising officers and offering an access point for young people involved if required. A positive profile of the school and young people in the community is established and schools regularly report the community support increases year after year. Whilst the performances consist of students there is no limit to the number of community members that can get involved in the weeks/ months leading up to the show day. The wider school and local community can help by offering time, expertise or supporting fundraising endeavours. which can raise the profile of both the young people and school. Schools can collaboratively work together to produce joint entries and the events are a good opportunity for secondary school Rock Challenge® students to assist the J Rock™ entries of their feeder schools which in turn has positive implications for the primary school students in their transition to secondary school.

INCLUSION

Teams can be made up of students with a range of religions, ethnicities, behavioural and special education needs. Performances can be created to bring out the strengths of each and every child involved with no barriers to every pupil achieving. The whole experience also helps schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, tolerance and mutual respect.

PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITY

High profile venues are used across the UK to allow young people get a unique chance to perform live o­n a professional stage. This performance I front of friends, family, peers and the wider community is a culmination of the months of hard work and gives the young people an end goal to focus for.

CURRICULUM LINKS

With academic success and attainment extremely high priorities for the Government and educational establishments, involvement and creation of a Rock Challenge®/ J Rock™ piece is strongly placed to supplement the Purpose of Study, Aims and Attainment set out in numerous statutory aspects of the English National Curriculum. The events do so by allowing a different platform for learning which can engage and deepen the understanding of more young people. The Education Scotland Curriculum for Excellence is intended to help children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century. The personal and social health benefits the young people experience through involvement help to achieve this aim, whilst the self-reported overall enjoyment of school contributes to raising the levels of attainment also a key Government focus.   

NEW ZEALAND RESEARCH

"A Youth Performing Arts Experience: The active ingredients of a natural high" - overview of PhD study investigating Stage Challenge (the NZ equivalent of Rock Challenge®) by Jan Trayes, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland.

"To summarise, despite the ups and downs of the practice experience, in Stage Challenge young people experience a pot pourri of psychological dimensions (in particular, belonging, autonomy, integrity, accomplishment, identity development, flow and emotional intensity) that are not only individually associated with enduring psychological growth, but when experienced concurrently, make for an all-natural, but addictive cocktail of well-being. This is delivered through its dance and music component, its inclusive structure, its challenging performance goal, its competitive orientation and its professionally managed performance day party. Even though each team’s practice periods had their ups and downs, when viewed in its entirety, nearly all students agreed that Stage Challenge delivers the types of experiences that they crave: to be with friends, to exercise self-direction, to act in accordance with their sense of self and their values, to learn new things, to succeed, and to have fun. Big time!"

To read the full Interim Report (1.1MB, pdf file, and we hope you DO read it :) please go to tinyurl.com/khrpyus
UK RESEARCH

Early research (in Portsmouth in 1996/97) showed not o­nly a much-improved awareness and behaviour among Rock Challenge® participants regarding substance abuse when compared to those in a nearby matched non-participating school over a period of a year, but also positive changes regarding their attitudes to teachers, behaviour, teamwork and a growing commitment to such things as the importance of homework, working hard, regular attendance at school, doing well in exams and planning further education and future careers.

Independent research has also been carried out by two departments of the Leeds Metropolitan University, who looked at the Dance Action Zone Leeds (DAZL) involvement with the Rock Challenge® team at the 11-to-16 Merlyn Rees School from November 2000 through to Summer 2001. The full report by Sheila Scraton (Professor of Leisure and Feminist Studies), Fiona Stoddart (Research Officer) and Nicki Latham (Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health) used to be available on the internet at https://tinyurl.com/nj45nnj but the Summary Findings from three of the report's sections are given below:-

PHYSICAL HEALTH BENEFITS

1. It was perceived by the DAZL Rock Challenge® participants and coordinators that taking part increased access to exercise;
2. increased fitness;
3. increased flexibility;
4. supported weight loss;
5. promoted awareness about the ill effects of smoking;
6. provided a supportive culture for those students who chose not to smoke;
7. provided the opportunity to discuss a range of different health related topics with the students;
8. provided opportunities for physical skill development.

MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS

The data indicated that the students involved in DAZL Rock Challenge® perceived that they had grown in self-confidence and had an increased sense of well-being because of their involvement. This confidence and sense of well-being appeared to manifest itself in a number of different ways for the young people. They spoke about:

  • overcoming shyness;
  • feeling better about their bodies;
  • feeling more confident when they meet new people;
  • the buzz factor from doing well;
  • confidence to risk trying new things;
  • a culture of mutual support within the group;
  • a sense of shared identity;
  • group solidarity;
  • a sense of responsibility to the group.
Furthermore, DAZL Rock Challenge® appeared to:
  • instil a sense of pride in the students involved;
  • give them a credible identity within school;
  • give the school an improved self image;
  • develop a commitment to doing a good performance;
  • support the development of a "DAZL Rock Challenge® Attitude";
  • allow creativity;
  • in some cases help individuals reflect o­n changes in their own behaviour.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS

The DAZL Rock challenge project provided:
  • strong dance role models;
  • career aspirations;
  • certification of involvement in a dance project;
  • opportunities to link into existing community dance opportunities;
  • opportunities to raise the profile of Merlyn Rees School.
The project also enabled:
  • friendships to develop;
  • instances of team-building among student groups;
  • career development opportunities.
AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH

In December 2001 Australian researcher Rose Grunstein reported o­n an analysis of students in a range of high schools around New South Wales. Students were allotted to o­ne of three groups (Rock Challenge® participants, Rock Challenge® schools' non-participant students, and students at non-Rock Challenge® schools) and an attempt was made to highlight the factors that support "Resiliency", described as "an interaction between an individual's personality and his/her response to the environment" and as "the individual's ability to cope with adversity." (Some of the factors measured related to Identity, Belonging, Sense of Purpose, Problem-Solving Skills, Social Competence, and Attitude.)

Grunstein reported that "For both the whole sample and the group of girls from Year 9 and above, Rock Challenge® school students had a significantly higher overall resiliency during the rehearsal period than students from control schools. Within RC schools, participants scored higher for overall resiliency than non-participants. At no point in time do control-school students reach the same level of resiliency as participants."

Grunstein also reported that there were highly significant correlations between behaviour and participation in Rock Challenge®, Students from Rock Challenge® schools had a positive association with non-smoking behaviour and binge-drinking and participants themselves had a positive association with recent non-smoking behaviour and future intention.

Rock Challenge® participants scored significantly higher in feeling close to friends and having a strong attachment to their school, having a sense of future purpose, their positive attitude to peers and to family, and their negative attitude to substance abuse.

Grunstein concluded (paraphrased) "Both students and teachers involved in the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge invariably express how much fun they had being involved in it. To use something that is fun as a prevention tool is ideal. Furthermore, since the young people actually participate in an event rather than passively absorb information, the REC is an effective prevention tool. The individual in fact discovers for her/himself that it is possible to have fun without the aid of alcohol or drugs. It has been shown that the most successful prevention programs are the o­nes that involve indirect approaches and skill building, and this is exactly what the REC does."

OfSTED

Some OfSTED inspection teams have already discovered its effects in participating schools they have visited. Here are some quotes:

"The famous music and dance extravaganza Rock Challenge® has become part of a Hanson tradition ... Students enjoy these events; participation in the Rock Challenge® is high and many hours are willingly given up for practice."

"The recent Rock Challenge® and Get Real programme were positive initiatives in raising pupils? social awareness and extending their social skills."

"Pupils are keen to participate in such activities as Rock Challenge® and the School Council and show good levels of responsibility in dance and drama ... these positive attitudes to school are not always seen in lessons ..."

"One outstanding example of students working harmoniously together was seen in the 'Rock Challenge®' rehearsal in which around 80 students organised themselves to practice dance routines with the very minimum of supervision."

The school offers a wide range of sporting and cultural activities. Some, such as the "Rock Challenge®", are very popular, but time constraints can inhibit the take-up of others."

"There is a significant commitment by large numbers of pupils to the annual Rock Challenge® competition. These all contribute to raising self-esteem of pupils."

Very good extra-curricular extension is also provided. For instance, the department participates annually in the national Rock Challenge® competition, a drama-dance extravaganza involving 120 pupils. It has won the local heats in the last four years and come second and third nationally."

"Musical and instrumental activities are limited ... but a large number of students take part in the very successful "Rock Challenge®".

"The pupils enjoy raising money for charity and take part with enthusiasm in a wide range of extra-curricular activities including the Rock Challenge®, a dance/drama extravaganza involving some 120 pupils."

Students greatly appreciated the school's successes in the "Rock Challenge®" competition.

Health Choices: 100% Drug, Smoking and Alcohol Free

The Rock Challenge® attitude to any team members who break their commitments regarding substance abuse on any Rock Challenge® Event Day is that they are removed from further participation immediately.

They must be taken away from the event by their school or college and while their remaining team members can perform in that evening's show, they cannot place higher than third no matter now many points they score. Nor can they proceed to any further Event that year. This is widely supported by the vast majority of team members.

Many teams adopt similar "One Strike And You're Out" rules for their own team members through the rest of the Rock Challenge® 'season' at their school or college.

Such is the attraction of Rock Challenge® that many schools now also apply strict rules regarding school attendance, work, attitude and homework: in such schools, team members improve in all these areas and drive up the school's results.