Be the Change Schools

Be the Change Schools

Be The Change Schools is a unique educational programme which empowers and equips sixth form students in Northern Ireland to support Newcomer children in NI with low levels of English literacy living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

Saphara Be the Change

At Saphara we believe young people have the power to change the world.

In today’s increasingly self-focused society it is vital for young people to look beyond their own lives and their own communities to better understand and empathise with others who are “not from their world”.

Through the Be the Change project we work to inspire, equip and empower young people to look beyond themselves, to create flourishing communities of justice and compassion, locally and globally, and empower them to Be the Change they want to see in the world. Our vision is a generation of Northern Irish young leaders participating in compassionate, peaceful and inclusive communities where everyone is valued and celebrated, especially those most marginalised.

The Be the Change project creates a partnership between sixth-form students and primary schools in socio-economically deprived areas with high numbers of newcomer children. This is a partnership which reaches across traditional social, economic, political and religious boundaries in order to facilitate the growth, development and inclusion of both students and primary school children.

The ‘Buddy’ approach has been shown to enable older students to have a significant impact on younger children struggling with school for a variety of reasons. Saphara has adopted this approach in collaboration with the Intercultural Service of the NI Education Authority.


In order to achieve their Be the Change Award sixth-form students are required to engage with a year-long programme of activities and work which challenges what they know about the world, and encourages them to open their hearts and minds to those living in challenging situations.

To do this students will be required to work with peers from other schools to complete 4 workshops exploring identity, poverty, privilege and different cultures and traditions across the world. Students are asked to complete at least 10 volunteer hours in local action with newcomer children in their communities and to complete at least 10 volunteer hours in global advocacy with marginalised children in India.

This project culminates with a Newcomer Week hosted by Stranmillis and St Mary’s University Colleges. During this week Be the Change students host newcomer children and their peers from primary schools in socio-economically deprived areas. The students deliver a day of crafts, games and activities which they have planned and developed to help the primary school children explore identity, community and self worth. This experience, aside from being beneficial for the students, is a potentially life changing experience for the younger children.

As one Primary School teacher put it:

‘It is wonderful to see our children...connecting with the Saphara young people - having role models who can inspire them to stay engaged in school and to aspire to a better future. I hope this will just be the start to a great collaboration with Saphara.’

Programme Impact

Be the Change Project is beneficial to both young people volunteering for the award and for primary school children from socio-economically deprived areas. For young people the programme will have the following impact:

  • Giving a sense of purpose and agency in the midst of uncertainty, and equipping the young people with the self-belief and resources to Be the Change they want to see in the world.
  • Building emotional resilience and improved mental health in young people as they work together towards a common goal.
  • Developing young people as future leaders with a passion and motivation for an inclusive and compassionate Northern Ireland.
  • Breaking down divisions – as young people develop working relationships with people of the same age from a diverse range of religious, ethnic and political backgrounds.
  • Promoting compassionate and inclusive communities – through engaging with young people from other ethnicities and cultures in NI and beyond.

‘The Saphara programme has proved to be beneficial on so many levels… developing real service leadership, helping others who are less privileged and reflecting on their own responsibilities within the wider community. Our Saphara students frequently refer to the life-changing experiences this programme provides and they come to the realisation that one of the greatest gifts is to give.’

Be The Change Approach

Saphara Be the Change Award is founded on Transformative Learning Theory, encompassing 3 key elements:


Advocacy together globally – connecting with & learning from marginalised children in India through connecting digitally & supporting by fundraising. 


Action together locally – connecting with & learning from newcomer children in NI through action. 

Support us

Saphara believes that every child is of immense value and worth and that education is key to enabling disadvantaged youth to overcome poverty. The charity focuses on educational projects which build capacity, and strategic interventions which empower young people. Saphara works in partnership with local schools and NGOs that can demonstrate buy-in and ownership from local communities. These are uniquely placed to effect long-term and sustainable change.

Our Programmes


Be the Change India

We partner with schools and NGOs in India to support their vital work providing education for all.


Be the Change Girls

There are 15 million girls worldwide who are never expected to enrol in school. We want to change that.


Be the Change Colleges

Teaching students from Stranmillis and St Mary’s Colleges to deliver affirming education to marginalised children in NI and in India.

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