Staff and pupils at a Newcastle school have teamed up with a North East athletics legend to raise money for an international children’s charity.  Steve Cram joined students and teachers at Central Gosforth Middle School to take on an inflatable assault course in aid of COCO (Comrades of Children Overseas), the organisation which he co-founded in 2000.

Central Gosforth Middle School’s head of maths and PE Dave Slipper works with Steve Cram on his range of running events, including next week’s Kielder Marathon weekend.  Mr Slipper introduced the work of Newcastle-based COCO to pupils and once they had learned about the charity’s Schools for Life programme in East Africa, they decided to do something to support the project.  Since 2014, Schools for Life has been helping to transform schools in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, both in terms of academic results and sustainability.  Project managers from COCO work with each school on six key elements; shelter, power, water sanitation, food, sports and recreation, and entrepreneurship.

Schools For Life is currently working with 13 communities and making a big impact, covering the whole spectrum of education – from nursery education all the way through to pupils becoming teachers themselves.  Where it makes interventions, COCO’s aim is always for the schools to become self-sustaining over time, so that the charity’s financial support is no longer required.  Students and staff at Central Gosforth Middle School decided to arrange their sponsored obstacle course event to help fund a new classroom at one of the School for Life projects, and to strengthen the ties between their own school and COCO.

Dave Slipper set up a course on the school field that included three bouncy castles, a cargo net, and a ‘space hopper’ challenge, as well as traditional events such as bean bag throwing and hula hooping.  The entire school took part in the event, with pupils split up into their respective year groups to take on the course at times staggered through the day.  Steve Cram was on hand with school staff to help the children around the course and marshal at the various obstacles.

Dave Slipper comments: “The children have had a fantastic day attempting the bouncy castle assault course and we hope that the funds raised really help the children in Africa and allow them to experience the joy of education and learning that our children benefit from.”

Steve Cram adds: “It was great fun to spend time at the school and see so many kids taking part and enjoying themselves.  I’m glad that I was there mainly to help and didn’t have to tackle all of the obstacles myself!  The money that the event has raised will go a long way, supporting COCO’s vital work in East Africa, and we are very grateful to the young people and staff of Gosforth Central Middle School for their contributions.”

To find out more about the work of COCO, visit www.coco.org.uk.