Scottish Olympic rowing silver medallist Karen Bennett has urged school children who don’t get the exam results they were hoping for not to be disheartened.
The 29-year-old is competing at the 2018 European Championships and took time out of her busy training schedule to support Childline which has dealt with over 1,000 contacts from young people worried about exam results.
Karen, from Edinburgh, started her rowing career at the age of 18 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top, winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Karen hopes her example of never giving up will help inspire children in Scotland who may feel disappointed on Tuesday when the National and Higher exam results are released.
The 2018 European Championships ambassador said: “I would say to children who don’t get the exam results they were hoping for tonot be disheartened.
“There are so many doors opening as you get older and there will be lots of options available if they don’t get the results they hoped for.
“I know there is a lot of pressure on school children these days, I worked in a school doing some coaching when I was trying to get into the Great Britain rowing team.
“Results are important but it’s only once you get older that you realise they are not everything.
“It’s OK if you don’t get the results you were hoping for, it’s not the end of the world, it might seem like it at the time but it’s really not.
“In one of my first attempts at rowing I fell into the water, it wasn’t even in a rough bit of water, it was at a nice calm bit, and I had to get rescued by someone on a speedboat.
“But I didn’t give in, it’s so important that children don’t give in when they suffer a blow in life.”
Last year (2016-17) saw a rise in counselling sessions carried out by confidential support service Childline with young people worried about exams.
More than 1,200 counselling sessions were held with UK children relating to exam result worries in 2017/18 compared with 1,133 contacts in 2016/2017.
Specially-trained counsellors at Scotland’s two Childline bases in Glasgow and Aberdeen handled a total of 252 counselling sessions on exam result worries in 2017/18 from worried children across the UK as the number of sessions they delivered increased from 196 the previous year.
Karen added: “It’s vital that young people have a service like Childline to turn to for help.
“I would suggest that young people don’t lock their worries up, don’t suffer in silence because you will feel so much better once you have spoken about it.
“The advice from a service like Childline is crucial, it’s so important to be told that everything will be OK and there are other options which you may not even know about.
“Speak to someone and if you don’t have someone you feel you can talk to, contact Childline who will be able to help you.
“Childline is there for young people but to provide the service, NSPCC Scotland needs help. People can help by raising funds or volunteering and there is lots of information on the website where people can find out how they can support the NSPCC.”
Jayne Laidlaw, Childline manager for the Glasgow base, added: “We are extremely grateful to Karen for taking time out from her busy training schedule to promote NSPCC Scotland and Childline.
“Exam results time can be such a worry for young people and it’s fantastic that Karen has recognised this and shown by her example that it’s never too late for a young person to find out what they can excel in.
“Karen’s message of not suffering in silence is one we endorse here at Childline and I would encourage any young person with exam results worries, or any concerns, to get in touch with Childline.”
A series of videos dedicated to helping young people through exams and life after school are available on Childline’sYouTube channel.
As well as calling Childline’s free confidential helpline on 0800 11 11, young people can also send emails to trained counsellors or receive support online via one-to-one chat by visiting childline.org.uk or by downloading our For Me app
To find out how you can fundraise for NSPCC Scotland go to: https://bit.ly/2v9rD03