SOME 20 years since the Rock Challenge was first introduced to the UK the nationwide performing arts competition returns to Southampton to kick-start the 2015 tour.

Involving more than 320 schools across the country this year’s UK Rock Challenge and J Rock events are expected to reach upwards of 20,000 young people aged seven to 18.

From Monday, February 23 Southampton Guildhall will host six nights of entertainment as 48 schools – 38 of which are local to Hampshire and three from the Isle of Wight, will take to the stage.

The Be Your Best Rock Challenge and J Rock events aim to inspire, engage and motivate young people to make healthy, positive lifestyle choices.

Each show provides the opportunity for young people to experience an adrenalin-based high through performing live on a professional stage.

The wellbeing of children, particularly their emotional wellbeing, remains a prominent government and Ofsted priority.

In light of this Be Your Best Foundation CEO David Beal is really looking forward to producing another year of events as he knows how powerful the initiative can be at delivering vital life skills.

David says: “The young people involved will benefit in a wide variety of ways from improving self-esteem and confidence, increasing school attendance and even reducing anti-social behaviour in participating schools, all achieved through having fun in a supportive, yet professional environment.”

Teams as small as 10, or as large as 135 students, collaborate with teachers, parents and wider communities to prepare an eight-minute performance.

These preparations are undertaken over many weeks and months and showcase an array of skills in dance, drama and design.

Set to a theme of their choice each school’s performance is completely original and can vary from tackling a political or social message, retelling a true event or an entirely imaginative concept.

Senior event manager Samantha Eastwood is looking forward to seeing the variety of themes that will be tackled in 2015 and, as a product of the Rock Challenge herself – having participated for six years at school, loves working on the events knowing what an important and unforgettable experience the Rock Challenge is for young people.

Samantha strongly believes: “The team spirit and energetic environment of the Rock Challenge day creates a lasting memory for every student involved which is why we see schools coming back year after year to share in the fantastic experience that this live event offers.”