Commonly regarded as the UK's flagship youth programme, NCS is a four-week adventure that takes place during the school holidays, where teenagers learn new skills by going on outward bound activities, meet new friends from different backgrounds and create social action projects to benefit their local community. NCS is run across the region by Essex Boys and Girls Clubs.
Mark, an NCS ambassador for Essex Boys and Girls Clubs, spent time with the teens and was keen to hear how the programme is preparing them for the future by building their skills and confidence.
He said: "NCS equips young people with the skills and self-belief to uncover their hidden talents, something I'm passionate about supporting. The teens here today are motivated and excited to be trying new things, meeting new people and have the fantastic facilities of Hadleigh Park at their disposal."
Meeting Mark was a dream come true for 'life-long fan' and avid footballer Robert Lodge from Wickford.
"I got quite emotional meeting Mark and hearing his stories about his career and how he's got to where he is today," said Robert, 16, a student at Beauchamps High School. "He was interested to hear about our camping expedition last week and all the sports we'll be trying out this week at Hadleigh.
"I'm gaining so much already from my time on NCS. It's increased my confidence in meeting new people and trying new things, but meeting Mark will remain my highlight! Every 16 and 17 year-old can come on NCS, there's absolutely no reason not to, it's a great laugh and gives you skills for the future."
Robert and his fellow NCS participants spent last week at Cherry Tree camp in Colchester, trying out hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, cooking their own food and camping under the stars. Their time at Hadleigh will incorporate sporting and class-room based activities, after which they'll devise and implement a social action project to benefit a local good cause.
NCS is delivered regionally by Ingeus, in partnership with Essex Boys & Girls Clubs and Essex County Council.
Kevin Bowers, Assistant Director at Essex Boys & Girls Clubs said: "Mark really inspired the young people with his visit. He's a much-loved star amongst West Ham fans and a great role model for teenagers. He's fit, active and supports his local community; exactly what our NCS participants aspire to."