ABOUT 300 children from schools across Manchester are being encouraged to set their sights higher, thanks to local businesses including the Co-operative Group.
The youngsters, aged between eight and 11, took part in an innovative scheme supported by the Group.
They were able to visit local businesses and meet positive role models from the world of work and education, encouraging the children to expand their own career aspirations.
The year-long scheme culminated in "graduation" ceremonies at the Co-operative Group's New Century House headquarters, organised by Manchester's "Higher Futures" team and by members of the Group's "Altogether Different" graduate development programme.
As well as the ceremonies themselves, at which the children wore graduation robes, they also took part in interactive voting sessions, career workshops, and enjoyed sessions presented by Co-operative Group representatives including Group chief executive Martin Beaumont.
The events finished with balloon launches outside New Century House, with each balloon carrying a slip explaining a child's career aspirations and making a pledge based on what they had learnt during the day.
Jessica Fielder, one of the organisers from the Co-operative Group's graduate development programme, said the event had been a success.
"We had some excellent feedback from the schools involved and from the children themselves," she said. "They really enjoyed it and so did we. It was a lot of fun."
Higher Futures is part of Aimhigher, which supports projects in Greater Manchester to inspire, encourage and support young people so they feel confident enough to go on to further and higher education.