Polar Academy | 2018 School Announcement | Tiso Blog

Jacob Brydon | Comments

Since 2014, The Polar Academy has been inspiring ‘invisible’ children from across Scotland by giving them the opportunity to learn new skills, develop friendships and overcome challenges by tackling a polar expedition in Greenland. After a very successful expedition, we look ahead to next year’s selected school before the training programme begins after summer.

This Autumn, ten pupils from Lochgelly High School in central Fife will start their preparations for a life changing expedition to the arctic in March 2018. The team of seven girls and three boys, aged between fourteen and sixteen will face a tough eight month training programme designed to ensure that they are mentally and physically prepared for ten days of hiking across nearly 100km of arctic ice in Eastern Greenland.

During the expedition, each individual will be responsible for hauling their own 45kg sledge, while navigating, camping and undertaking scientific experiments on frozen sea ice in support of their school learning. An addition, nine young people will be selected alongside the expedition team to train as part of The Polar Academy’s ‘leadership team’.

Craig Mathieson, founder of the Bo’ness based charity, established the programme in 2014, determined to positively influence the lives of young people who are viewed as being devoid of self-esteem, confidence and direction. An explorer himself, Craig has experience of being a military diver, and was named ‘explorer in residence’ by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 2013. So far, the programme has helped thirty pupils from North Lanarkshire & Edinburgh to overcome their personal struggles and have seen their lives transformed by the experience.

In discussing next year’s cohort, Craig wanted to clarify; “This is no guided school trip. The pupils will be working as part of a team to navigate, ski and camp in some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain, but ultimately it will be a hugely positive, life changing experience”.

The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded, with the selected pupils getting the chance of the life-changing trip with no basis on their background. Relying on generous support from companies and private donors, the charity aims to raise £170,000 per year to operate. Tiso are proud to support the charity and Chris Tiso, CEO, has been a founding partner in The Polar Academy since its inception. Reflecting on the fourth intake of pupils, Chris commented:

I have personally witnessed the remarkable change in the young people who have had the opportunity to experience The Polar Academy. I have no doubt that in eight months’ time, the pupils from Lochgelly High School will return with greater confidence and self-esteem and be ready to be role models for their peers in the local community.

In addition to support from Tiso, the charity is also helped by Bergans of Norway, Cornhill Building Services, Baillie Gifford and other private donors.

In mid-June, the pupils from Lochgelly High School undertook a challenging final selection process at Glenmore Lodge in Aviemore. Head Teacher, Carol Ann Penrose experienced the selection process alongside her pupils and will be part of the expedition group. She commented;

To be part of this expedition is a real privilege. One of our big messages as a school and as part of the local community is not to be afraid of challenges, but to take it on and believe you can succeed if you are prepared to work hard, pick yourself up and keep going after every setback.

Following their return from their expedition next year, the pupils will be required to share their story and experience with assemblies in schools with the aim of inspiring others through their exploration. Over the last few years, over 50,000 pupils from across the country have heard first-hand accounts of the journey. 

If you're inspired by the story of the Polar Academy, read more over on our dedicated page. To donate to the fantastic charity, visit their website or justgiving page. If you're getting out for your own adventures, share your photos and stories with #MyTiso.

Jacob Brydon Social Media & Web Content Assistant Ex-Hebridean Island Dweller. Rural Dreamer. Sunshine Chaser. Occasional Traveller. Trampoline Gymnast. Runner. Lover Of The Outdoors
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