Katie Mccombie 4

Leading the way

How Katie has been a shining light in her role as a Young Ambassador

“One of the finest person-centred young people I have seen in my years’ work in sport and education.”

The words from Iain Stewart, Active Schools Coordinator for Arbroath High School when asked about Katie McCombie, the schools Young Ambassador (YA).

Katie has racked up an impressive 400 hours volunteering within the schools PE department. A significant amount of this time has been spent, promoting sport and motivating and inspiring other young people to get involved in sport within her community.

But just how much has she valued her experience as a YA, and how much of an asset has Katie been to her school?

Being selected 

Katie has recently finished her 6th year at school and her second stint as a Young Ambassador at Arbroath High School.

She remembers fondly being selected and attending the YA conference in 2022 at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen.

She said: “I was put forward for the position by the PE department at my school. I think I came across as being confident, but I never would have thought of myself as a role model to others.

“Going to the conference was an amazing experience, getting to meet so many other likeminded people with the same passion for sport as me. I didn’t realise how big a thing Young Ambassadors was and how much went into planning and organising of the event, but after that day I was excited to get going and make a difference.”

In her first year, Katie supported the school in achieving a silver School Sport Award. The School Sport Award provides a framework for all schools to be recognised for innovation and achievement in delivering school sport across gold, silver, and bronze levels.

Katie identified that more could be done to profile pupils’ achievements within sporting roles and created a ‘volunteer of the month’ award which would spotlight a young person’s efforts in supporting the PE department or with extra-curricular activities. Each month, the winners are promoted within the school and on the school’s social media channels.

She has also organised and helped run primary competitions, Active Girls Week, and the Athletics Championships. In addition to this, Katie has supported PE classes and set up new clubs within the school to provide more opportunities for everyone to participate. 

Gold School Sport Award

In her second year, she helped the school to go one better in the School Sport Award – Gold!

Katie used the self-assessment tool to create an action plan on what could be improved within the school and spoke with pupils to gather interest in sports clubs. She identified that fewer girls participated in extra-curricular sport than boys, and so set about creating a series of girls-only activities for S1-S3 pupils. The activities were held during women and girls in sport week and focused on improving confidence. Among trying new sports, other activities were set up by Katie such as cardio drumming and self-defence. 

She also helped to set up a table cricket club for young people with additional support needs. 

Katie said: “Some of the Support for Learning pupils have severe learning difficulties, and despite some of them being able to participate in more mainstream activities, I felt some were being excluded. This club has helped with integration, and it has been amazing to play a part in helping more people enjoy sport.”

Building relationships

When asked where the motivation and drive to help others stems from, Katie said: “I didn’t really feel supported when I was younger. I didn’t notice at the time, but looking back, I lacked that support, and I guess I don’t want others to miss out on opportunities. 

“I hate struggling at things, and academically I struggled at quite a few subjects. PE and sport were the main things I was good at, and I want others to find that same enjoyment from sport.”

It’s thanks to her PE teacher and mentor Miss (Claire) Bowman for providing this opportunity and support.

Katie said:

“The opportunity to be a Young Ambassador has been such a positive experience.

"When Miss Bowman first came to the school, YA wasn’t a well-known leadership programme for young people. She looked at the role and thought ‘young people would really benefit from this’.”

“She has been a huge support for me. She gave us the platform to share and bring our own ideas to life. Her and the rest of the PE department made me feel like I had a place and this gave me real confidence that I could achieve.”

In terms of skills, Katie mentioned that building relationships has been key to her success.

“Relationship building has been the main thing that I feel I have developed. Things like how to support other young people and how to communicate effectively.

"Not everyone shares the same interests, so it’s about finding out how best to speak and work with others.

“Building trust with the school staff is also hugely important. They need to give trust that I will perform the role and be a role model to others.”

Active School Awards

As a result of her efforts, Katie was nominated by Miss Bowman for her volunteering in the Angus wide Active Schools Awards.

Not only did she win Secondary Pupil Volunteer of the Year but Katie was also awarded the Overall School Sport Volunteer of the Year. A fantastic accolade for her hard work and dedication.

Katie said: “I don’t usually like to be the centre of attention, but it helped to open my eyes and see actually how much I’ve done and what I have achieved.”

What they had to say

Those who helped Katie on her journey commented on her efforts.

Katie’s mentor, Claire Bowman said: “Katie is such a big part of the PE family at Arbroath High School. She makes sure that all pupils have a positive experience in PE and at our extra-curricular clubs. Katie is a role model to all our young people and has motivated and inspired them to be the best that they can be. She 100% demonstrates the school values of - commitment, ambition, respect and equity - in everything that she does.”

Iain Stewart, Active Schools Coordinator for Arbroath High School, said: “Katie is a standout young person. She is years ahead in terms of her work ethic, her vision and has so much empathy for young pupils.

"She is a young person who said yes to all the small ‘no one wanted to do it’ jobs that makes a difference.

"You know you are dealing with someone special when you only get halfway through your question, and they say ‘yes’ because they know it is the right thing to do! She has left a legacy of enthusing and inspiring other pupils.”

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