Countdown and Connect Challenge

Welcome ambassador badges

Challenge yourself to learn well

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

What a challenging year we’ve all come through – whether you’re a new or returning student, this is your chance to reboot and set your path to learning success in the year ahead.

Take part in the Countdown and 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 year ahead.

Countdown to Learning Well

We want you to fulfil your potential and have a life-changing student experience. Our Learning Well framework - available from 3 September 2021 - promotes personalised wellbeing and academic support that helps you achieve this learning success. 

Whatever stage you’re at in your learning journey, the Countdown and Connect Challenge is a fun way to engage with Learning Well – with the chance to win loads of great prizes. For more opportunities to win prizes, join in with online and in-person Connect events, building your own connections and contributing to our welcoming and inclusive learning community.

Registration for the Challenge opens on 1 September and closes on 31 October 2021. The final survey, grand final prize draw and closing event will take place in November.

Challenge prizes

Registering for the Countdown and Connect Challenge gives you lots of opportunities to win prizes.

Win at Connect events

Every Connect event you participate in earns you an extra ticket for the £100 grand final prize, as well as an entry into the event draw. At each event you’ll be able to win:

  • A University of Portsmouth hoodie
  • Just Eat vouchers to share with your housemates
  • 'Plus one' coffee vouchers to take a friend out for coffee

Win by taking the pledge

Taking the Welcome Ambassador pledge makes you eligible for the £200 grand prize and other exclusive prizes listed below. Contributing to Connect events and other community-building initiatives earns you extra draw tickets for these exclusive prizes and the recognition awards.

The grand final draw and showcase event takes place in November. Your tickets are entered in the grand final prize draw once you complete the final questionnaire. Prizes include:

  • Amazon vouchers (worth £200, 3 x £50, 6 x £10)
  • ‘Plus one’ gym memberships so you and a friend can join free
  • University of Portsmouth hoodies
  • Event tickets and other mystery prizes
  • Recognition awards and showcase slots for best leadership initiatives
Welcome to Countdown and Connect
Watch the short launch video to get motivated to join the Challenge and get tips for making 21/22 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

As soon as you register for the Challenge you’ll be eligible to win prizes at each Connect event and as part of the grand final prize draw. You can participate as much or as little as you wish. But the more you participate the more prizes you’ll be eligible for and the more chances you’ll have to win.

Follow these steps to register for the Challenge and qualify for prizes:

  • Step 1: Register for the challenge by submitting this short questionnaire
  • Step 2: Join in with Connect events (for opportunities to win event prizes and extra tickets for the £100 grand final prize)
  • Step 3: Complete the Learning Well online courses from 3 September 2021 and make the Welcome Ambassador pledge (to be eligible for the £200 voucher and other exclusive Welcome Ambassador prizes)
  • Step 4: Contribute to Connect events and work with other Welcome Ambassadors on your own community-building initiatives to earn extra tickets for the exclusive Welcome Ambassador prizes
  • Step 5: Complete the final questionnaire in November

You can start on the challenge any time from 1 September – and participate in as many Connect events as you wish to win event prizes and collect final draw tickets.

But you can only complete the challenge and get entered into the final prize draw when you complete the final questionnaire in November.

Go to the Countdown and Connect Challenge Moodle site

Once you've registered on the Challenge you can also earn extra entries into the final draw when you download and register on our WhatsUp app or attend other relevant Welcome Month events, such as Wellbeing Café or Culture Smart. 

For each event you will need to use your University of Portsmouth student ID number and/or University email address to register for each draw ticket. You will get specific instructions at each qualifying event.

Connect events

Join in with Connect events to meet like-minded fellow students, expand your connections and start winning great prizes to strengthen these connections.

For example, you could win ‘plus one’ coffee vouchers to take a new friend for coffee at one of the friendly University cafes, or a Just Eat voucher to get a sharing platter for a gathering with friends or housemates. 

The main Connect events take place on Wednesday afternoons at 2.15pm: 

  • Wednesday 8 September, 2.15pm: Countdown and Connect Launch – hear from UPSU Elected Officers to get inspiration for joining in with the Challenge.
  • Monday 4 – Friday 8 October: Week 1, Freshers’ Fayre – look out for Welcome Ambassadors out and about all week at Freshers’ Fayre, wearing their distinctive blue t-shirts and badges, giving out info and support, helping you sign up to the Challenge and inviting you to the Big Welcome Event. You can earn a Welcome Ambassador T-shirt and extra prize draw tickets by being one of them!
  • Wednesday 20 October, 2.15pm: The Big Welcome Event – a big meet up for everyone participating in the Challenge, with activities and extra prizes, and an opportunity to get together in person with the people you’ve met online. There’ll also be options for joining in online if you can’t be there in person and you’ll have time to work together on extra community-building initiatives for your courses.

Possible further Connect events and the prize draw showcase event details will be published closer to the time.

Learning Well

The short online Learning Well - Your Learning Journey course takes about an hour overall – but you can do it in short sections in your own time. Available from 3 September 2021, it will help you prepare for the next steps on your learning journey and make a personalised wellbeing and support plan, to support your learning success.

Once you've completed the Learning Well - Your Learning Journey course, it’s easy to continue onto the student leadership pathway with Learning Well Leadership 1: Giving & Getting Respect.

This course 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.

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.

Taking the pledge makes you eligible for all the exclusive Welcome Ambassador prizes in the Countdown & Connect Challenge, but it’s also the gateway to the Portsmouth student leadership pathway, building your leadership portfolio and gaining further leadership recognition for your CV. 

Take a look at all the pledges and videos on the Welcome Ambassador Faceboook page to get inspiration, and email to find out more about Welcome Ambassador meet ups and activities.

Group of welcome ambassadors walk outside, with two smiling in front

Completing the Challenge

To register all of your tickets into the final prize draws you will need to complete the final survey in November. Even if you don’t take the Welcome Ambassador pledge you will still be eligible for the £100 prize draw once you complete the final survey.

Good luck!


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