Almost 50 primary schools taking part in the 2021 Bright Stars challenge programme quizzed Cumbria’s MPs who shared their experience and tips about how to lead campaigns to change something the children care about.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison and Workington MP Mark Jenkinson joined Cumbria’s four other MPs to take part in individual live online question and answer sessions with schools in their constituencies.

The sessions produced a huge variety of questions and answers about how they support their communities and lead change.

Trudy Harrison answered questions about encouraging more recycling and deterring fly tipping, about her work in 10 Downing Street as the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, and advised children on the importance of explaining why something needs to change.

Mark Jenkinson explained to pupils how working together is important to bring about change, and also talked about the tough job of persuading people to be patient while they are waiting for change to happen.

Bright Stars partners primary schools with local companies to help pupils set up and run their own mini businesses, encouraging leadership and a culture of aspiration and enterprise.

For Bright Stars 2021 the focus has shifted from making a profit – to making a difference by creating digital marketing campaigns to champion the worthwhile causes chosen by the children.

The innovative eight-week programme is delivered by the Centre for Leadership Performance in collaboration with businesses and schools and finishes on Monday, June 28.

Bright Stars is funded by local businesses passionate about nurturing the leaders of the future and getting kids excited about the world of business.

For 2021 a record 49 schools are involved with extra support from BAE Systems and Sellafield to encourage supply chain companies to join the programme, and from Cumbria Community Foundation to enable more charities to partner with schools.

All of the MPs supporting the programme have pledged to stay in contact with the children as they build their campaigns.

CfLP Executive Director Sarah Glass said: “We are hugely grateful to Cumbrian businesses and our local MPs for supporting Bright Stars and enabling children to gain the full benefits of this fantastic opportunity.

“CfLP believes we can all step up and show leadership, and Bright Stars empowers children as young as five with the opportunity to make a difference and develop their leadership skills, confidence and self-belief."

Bright Stars offers young people the opportunity to be inspired and see that their actions will be recognised and their voices will be heard.

Pupils are exposed to positive role models from the world of business and the programme encourages leadership, building confidence as they showcase hidden talents and develop new skills.

Now in its ninth year, the programme enables children to learn through experience about key business principles like innovation, budgeting, problem solving.