By Jemima Morrow | Published: 20th August 2021
We were delighted to sit down with Charlotte Penniceard, founder of Be-Zing, an innovative web and app based platform for both children and young people. Be-Zing was shortlisted for a Digital Education Award last year, and so we thought that it would be a good idea to see how things have developed with the platform. Be-Zing aids youngsters in setting goals, recording achievements, listing their dreams and providing them with motivational words. The platform creates a CV of the child/young person’s life that can be brought with them wherever they go, reminding them of their amazing achievements! Be-Zing aim to develop both skills and self-confidence in equal measure… Inspiring children and young people to be the best version of themselves and excel in all areas of their lives!
Why did you create Be-Zing?
I’m a mother of four, and I’ve always put such importance on my kids’ self-belief and happiness. I was a shy child myself and I feel that it held me back. I wanted to make sure that my children were never held back from reaching their full potential.
When my daughter started secondary school it became apparent that she was struggling with her confidence, she wasn’t sure what she was good at and felt like she’d lost her way. In order to build up her self-confidence we decided that it would be a good idea for her to join a local running club, which admittedly she wasn’t the best at when she first started. We worked together to create a growth mindset plan for her, this involved setting personal goals, not comparing herself to others and working on the way she thought about herself. She then went from being the worst to being by far the best at her running club! It showed her that she had the ability to be amazing at something if she put her mind to it.
I want all children and young people to realise that they can be amazing! That’s where the idea for Be-Zing came from and I decided to make it happen! Be-Zing is both app and website based, with two areas; one for kids and one for young people, all focused on helping them to flourish via completing tasks in a variety of areas that build up their skills and confidence.
What have you developed since your entry to the Digital Education Awards in 2020?
We’ve been up to a lot! We’ve recently launched a new area of the app which follows the model of the wellness wheel. We’ve called it the Wheel of Zing and it focuses on having balance in life. There are all different areas of the wheel, such as; education/hard work, freedom/creativity and leadership/vision. The wheel starts off as white and each area is represented by a colour, when a child completes a task in a certain area the wheel becomes more colourful, which is a great visual aid!
What’s more, we’ve been developing our 12 week courses on the youth side of Be-Zing. These courses have been aided brilliantly by our ‘kickstarters’, who are 16 to 25 year olds who are out of work and consequently come to us for a six month placement. This is something that I’m very enthusiastic about because it stands for everything we believe in at Be-Zing! We want to help young people to find their groove and to give them a chance to be amazing.
We’re currently working with a kickstarter who is developing a new 12 course focused on up-cycling, and another who is developing 3D animation for us! We’ve got lots of exciting things in store…
How did COVID-19 impact Be-Zing?
The pandemic meant that my catering business was put on hold, allowing me to give a lot of time and energy to Be-Zing. It means that I’ve reevaluated what I want to do in my life and what I enjoy! Being around my children 24/7 was also incredibly inspiring for me, they were able to be my Be-Zing testers and I found it incredibly rewarding to see them thriving as a result. Again, the pandemic allowed us to get involved with kickstarters which has been wonderful for us and very fulfilling to align ourselves to a programme that shares our ethos of encouraging young people and giving them opportunities to realise their potential and talents!
What is the role of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards at Be-Zing?
Duke of Edinburgh is very important to Be-Zing as the organisation has approved us as a DofE Activity Provider, meaning that our 12 week courses count towards young people achieving their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
This has been great for us because DofE and Be-Zing focus on the same things, helping young people to grow their skills, gain invaluable life experiences and knowledge and grow their confidence! What’s more, it shows that we are valued and credible as a digital education provider. In the past when completing tasks that would count towards a young person gaining their DofE Award, it would centre around a time and place convenient for the provider, which could prevent it from being accessible to all. We wanted to create courses that would allow young people to complete tasks in their own time and in a place that was convenient for them! Weekly tasks are set and once completed are uploaded and marked by us. This means that all tasks are fully monitored and young people have to prove that they’ve earned their marks!
Which of your courses are the most popular?
At the moment our most popular course is Global Cooking. It’s a really interesting course that features food from all different countries around the world from a variety of chefs from all different cultures! It gives youngsters the chance to learn about foods that they otherwise may not have experienced and so far it’s proved very popular!
Additionally, I’m excited for the Up-cycling course to launch because I think it’s such an amazing skill to be able to create something out of something completely different! The course has a sort of Scouts ethos and gives the children complete freedom of creativity.
Can you tell us about your use of characters?
On the children’s side of Be-Zing we use a lot of characters to bring the website/app to life! Characterisation can really help children to learn and grasp different concepts. For example, different animals can be symbolic of different areas of themselves… A lion can represent them facing their fears, a giraffe can represent having a clear perspective because they can see from a high vantage point and a dog can represent being very loyal to their beliefs and values.
When a child adds something to their Proud List they are able to choose an animal to signify it, such as choosing a cheetah if they have performed well in a running race.
We’re having a lot of fun developing this characterisation further by working with our 3D illustrator kickstarter who is able to bring the animals to life, it’s an amazing concept that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the incredible new talent that we’ve got on board.
Finally, what are your hopes and dreams for Be-Zing?
My dreams for Be-Zing are to have it as a recognised name, known by all schools, councils, charities etc. I believe that there are a lot of children/young people who desperately need some direction in their lives and it would be incredible to be the go to organisation to help them find it. I would love to do a big marketing push to spread the word and I also want to have a lot of fun with it. For example it would be great to hold a big charity event whereby every part of the event was created by children and young people. They could assist the chefs, work alongside waitstaff, create prizes, provide entertainment in the form of performances and much more. I want children and young people to gain skills and experiences which they can add to their CV and be really proud of!
For more information about Be-Zing please visit: www.be-zing.com