Countdown and Connect Challenge

Welcome ambassador badges

Challenge yourself to learn well

Win prizes by showing up for a year of learning well and supporting others in their learning journey.

This academic year will be one like no other before – whether you’re a new student or have returned to continue your studies, there are plenty of new things to get used to.

There's still time to take part in the Countdown & Connect Challenge to connect or reconnect with other students and with your course, win great prizes, and get inspiration for putting your best foot forward for the rest of the year ahead.

Challenge prizes

Completing the Countdown and Connect Challenge puts you in the grand final draw at the end of November with the possibility to win:

  • Amazon vouchers (worth £250, £100, 2 x £75, 3 x £50 and 4 x £25)
  • a gym membership (1 x 6-month membership and 2 x 1-month memberships)
  • University of Portsmouth hoodies
  • mystery prizes

Each step of the challenge you complete, and any extra activities you take part in, also enters you for a weekly prize draw. The weekly prize draw runs every Monday until 16 November and each week you could win:

  • a £30 Amazon voucher
  • a University of Portsmouth hoodie
  • Just Eat vouchers to share with your housemates
  • 'Plus one' coffee vouchers to take a friend out for coffee
Welcome to Countdown and Connect
Watch the short launch video to get motivated to join the Challenge and get tips for making 20/21 still work for you

Thank you so much for that introduction and thank you for having me here.

It is such a pleasure to speak to you today. I don't know how you're feeling right now. Maybe you are a fresher. And, of course, you'd be excited.

But also, you're a bit nervous because you're thinking what does this new way of learning actually look like for me? Or maybe you're a returning student? And you're just thinking, what is the point of even going back to uni? Again, you're feeling a bit anxious or a bit nervous.

But if you would let me, today I want to talk to you about why 2020 is still your year.

You see, the interesting thing about when we face unprecedented challenges or situations that we don't plan on the thing that we have control over, the thing that is in our power – is our ability to choose. To choose faith over fear, to choose optimism over chaos. And again, to choose how we respond to a situation.

You see, the ability to choose actually starts with our mind. Because our mind has the ability to be our own prisoner or to be our liberation. I'm going to say that again, our mind has the ability to be our own prisoner or our liberation.

And I know that is easier said than done. For me personally, when I was in school, I used to run long distance races. I said I used to run, but really I was like the one person I was always on the bench. When I was in secondary school, I was not a sporty person at all. I was better at dance and arts and theatre. But when it came to sports, that was not my strong point.

But somehow, somehow, with every single long distance race, I would find myself on the team because somebody had dropped off. And I hated it with every single being of me, every single part of me. I hated it so much because I knew I wasn't going to win. I hated it so much because I knew that I wasn't going to come first, second or or third position. So in my mind, I was like, what is the point of even running this race? And so every time, you know, it would be like a 1500 metre race and I'll be there running and it will get to a point where I'm just so tired. I literally everyone is already gone before me, they're on the third lap or something, you know? And I'm still on my second. And I was so tired. And I was just like I might as well just give up now because, hey, like I said, I didn't think I was going to win. It doesn't look like I'm going to win. What's the point? And really and truly, just as I'm about to give up, just as I'm about to literally just like cross the line and be like I'm not even going to complete this race to the left or to the right of me would be my team-mates that would just say "Toluwa, keep going. You can do it. You can do it. Keep running. You got this."

And at that single second, it would be like I had new energy. It would be like my boys were literally revived, like I was born again. Right. And I would get this energy in me to just start going, and… It's like I had the eye of the tiger literally in my head. And it's like, Yes!

But for me, I could not have done that race without my team members. You see, I'm not going to lie to you and say 2020 is still going to be amazing. You're not going to face any challenges, Uni is great. Have fun! Woo!

The fact is you are going to face challenges. The fact is you are going to face situations that you did not plan. But the only thing you can do is control how you see the situation. Control your ability to choose optimism, to see opportunities in different challenges.

You see, the mind is like a seed. With any seed, right, it needs water and sunlight. In this story, the water is your team members, your supportive community. Now, more than ever, you need a supportive community. You need to find your tribe. I don't know if you're a fresher right now, but at the times when you're thinking, I cannot do this anymore, you need to find a tribe that tells you you can. When you're thinking, I am not good enough, you need your tribe to tell you you are enough. You are good enough. You need to keep running your race. You need to keep on that journey because it is not going to be difficult.

But this is only a part of your story. It is not the end of your story. And with every journey, you need people to pull you. You need people to push you. And you need to be able to do that for other people as well. And the sunlight in this story is you.

Like I said before, in every challenging situation the only thing that we can control is how we respond to a situation rather than react. So having a growth mindset with every challenge, you're asking yourself, what can I learn from this? What are the opportunities in this challenge?

At the start of lockdown, I made myself a promise. I said I am not going to come out of lockdown the same as I was before. I wanted to be different. I didn't want to be the same Toluwa as I was in March. I wanted to be someone different, someone that grew from this situation, someone that learnt from this situation. And so you need to have that same mindset, the kind of growth mindset that is not limited or fixed. But you're constantly seeking out for opportunities. You're constantly seeking out to learn.

So I want to encourage you to join the Countdown and Connect Challenge. You need that supportive community. You need that network to be able to learn together, to be able to put your wellbeing first. And more importantly, just to be able to have a community where you can share. You're all in the same boat as students and you can actually grow together.

And I also want to encourage you to come to the seminar on the 25th of September, because we need to constantly learn practical techniques on how we can actually focus our energy on the things that we can control rather than the things that are not in our control.

I want you to remember that whatever you're going through, whatever you're feeling right now, is only a part of your story. It is not the end of your story. This is a journey. And with every storm in the journey, you have to enjoy it, enjoy the process. 2020 is still your year.

Thank you.

How to participate in Countdown and Connect

You'll get entered into 1 weekly prize draw for each step of the challenge you complete. So if you complete 3 steps on one day, you'll get an entry for the following 3 weeks and then you'll start doubling up with extra tickets for the remaining draws.

You can join the Countdown & Connect Challenge at any time until the last weekly prize draw on 16 November, but the sooner you register the more chances you will have to win prizes.

To qualify for entry into the grand final draw in November, you must complete every step below:

You can start on the challenge any time from 7 September – do one step each week or do all steps in one day if it suits you. But you can only complete the challenge and get entered into the final prize draw when the Student Wellbeing Survey is launched in November – so keep an eye out for it.

Go to the Countdown and Connect Challenge Moodle site

You'll also earn extra entries into the weekly prize draws when you download and register on our WhatsUp app and attend specific Countdown and Connect events now available on demand on the Challenge Moodle site including:

  • The Art of Brilliance (6 sessions) 
  • Culture Smart (6 sessions)
  • The Covid-19 Survival Guide Workshop (with Toluwa Oyeleye)

For every event and step of the challenge you complete, you'll get a Moodle badge sent to your Gmail inbox. Just follow the instructions in the email and upload your badge to be entered for the weekly prize draws. As long as you've registered for the Challenge, every event you attend counts as one entry into the weekly prize draw.

Learning Well

The short online Learning Well Transitions 2020 course takes  about an hour overall – but you can do it in short sections in your own time. It will help you prepare for your learning journey and make a personalised wellbeing and support plan, so  you can make the most of the new blended and connected learning experience that awaits.

There are two main sections to the course. When you complete a section, you'll receive a Moodle badge which you can use to enter the weekly prize draw.

Learning Well Leadership

Once you’ve completed the Learning Well Transitions 2020 course, it’s easy to follow on to the first course in the University of Portsmouth student leadership pathway: Learning Well Leadership 1: Giving & Getting Respect.

This course also takes about 1.5 hours to complete, and can be done in shorter sections in your own time. Successfully completing the short Leadership 1 assignment qualifies you to make the Welcome Ambassador pledge.

When you complete this course, you'll get a Moodle badge and which you can use to enter the weekly prize draw.

Welcome Ambassador pledge

When you take the Welcome Ambassador pledge you agree to be a role model in upholding the Student Charter and helping to build a welcoming and inclusive learning community for all.

Taking the pledge includes offering inspiration to other students by sharing a short example of a challenge you have faced and how you have overcome it. You'll get a physical Welcome Ambassador badge that you can wear to show that you’re a certified Welcome Ambassador.

You'll also get a Moodle badge for completing the pledge which you can use to enter into the weekly prize draw. This is also the final step of the challenge until the Student Wellbeing Survey launches in November.

Complete the survey and you'll have completed the challenge and be entered into the grand final prize draw

In the meantime, you can collect more weekly prize draw tickets by attending the Countdown & Connect Challenge events or joining other Welcome Ambassadors to develop your own community-building ideas and start keeping your leadership log.

Take a look at all the pledges and videos on the Welcome Ambassador page to get inspiration, and email welcomeambassadors@port.ac.uk to find out more about Welcome Ambassador meet ups and activities. Good luck!

Happy welcome ambassadors

Welcome Ambassadors Connect sessions

How to earn extra Welcome Ambassador badges once you've taken the pledge.

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