Big Education Challenge:
Meet finalist Emmanuella Okha

Read more about the Big Education Challenge

Emmanuella Okha, aged 22 from London, experienced poor support in higher education, leading her to rethink her approach to learning. The Big Mouth will provide young people excluded from mainstream education with tools to thrive through an online hub with drama, music, debate, and mentoring workshops designed to build employability skills whilst expanding aspirations and potential.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to give back to my community in a creative way and reach a demographic of young people that tend to slip through the net. Creativity is a basic human right and through the Big Mouth platform young people take centre stage in our process.”

About Emmanuella

Emmanuella is a passionate digital creative with a strong desire to affect real change. She is a careleaver and believes in supporting young people in the care system and alternative provisions.

Her experience of poor support in higher education caused her to rethink her approach to learning. With support from The Princes Trust and alternative educational pathways, she achieved a successful career in digital marketing, before moving to a charity more aligned with her values.

The problem

Young people in care can fall through cracks in the education system due to a lack of nurture and support for their learning and well-being.

41% of care leavers at age 18 are not in education, employment or training (NEET) compared with 12% of their peers.

There is a lack of diversity in the creative industries, where there are opportunities for creativity, self-expression, and community that would benefit care leavers.

“The current system isn’t working. There’s a direct route from care to custody with 40% of the under 21’s in prison coming from care. A radically different approach is needed.”

The bold idea

The Big Mouth (TBM) will build on the success of The Big House, whose mission is to transform young lives through the power of performance, in combination with long-term holistic and employment support.

It will ultimately create an online learning hub and community specifically for young people in alternative provisions, but will combine a research phase with young people who have lived experience, and designed workshop packages for dissemination nationally that use drama, music, debate and mentoring to explore hard hitting topics affecting teenagers.

Emmanuella seeks to transform the current landscape for alternative provision by creating more dynamic resources with and for young people. Young people will be supported to channel their creativity into a pathway to employment, building employability skills to expand their aspirations and potential.

“There are so many young people that feel isolated, that struggle to find a supportive community and feel like they don’t ‘fit’ into mainstream institutions.”

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