At the beginning of the year I posted an article here about the brave 15-year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, who defied the Taliban and fought for the right of young women to receive schooling in her home country of Pakistan. This was followed, a couple of months ago, by an update, revealing that having partially recovered from the assassination attempt she had now resumed her education at a Birmingham (UK) school.
This week the young lady’s bravery was recognised in Oklahoma City, USA, where her father Ziauddin accepted on her behalf (as well as his own) the Reflections of Hope Award, which is given annually by the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in honour of the 168 victims of the 1995 federal building bombing.
In accepting the award Mr Yousafzai, who is now the education attaché at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham, described the Taliban as being “more afraid of the books than bombs”, and explained that terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombings last month are a regular occurrence in Pakistan, where the Taliban had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people over the last thirty years. “My part of the world is bleeding”, he said. “I’m here to bring my people out of terrorism…We should defeat bad ideas with good ideas.”
He dedicated the award to those fathers, brothers, sons and husbands “who believe and who accept and who respect their daughters, their sisters, their mothers and their wives.” He said he was honoured to be widely known in Pakistan as Malala’s father, despite its being a male-dominated society.
Although unable to be present at the award ceremony Malala sent along a recorded acceptance speech, in which she referred to the encouragement that the Oklahoma memorial offered in the battle for girls’ rights, worldwide, to receive an education. “Every girl, every child, to be educated”… as she has previously said.
This blog is usually about young people’s volunteering, and what they are doing for charitable causes… with particular emphasis on the UK. But a teen actress’s stand against drink and drugs, and the wild party scene that so many stars fall into, has really impressed me, and I felt that I ought to pass it on today.
Sixteen-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz – star of Kick-Ass – was recently quoted in Nylon magazine as being totally disinterested in becoming a party girl like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. She rejects the temptation to go on wild nights out, saying she doesn’t want to risk what she has accomplished so far in her Hollywood career.
Here’s what this young role model had to say:
“I’m, like, incredibly straight-laced, considering what some 16 year olds are doing. It’s probably because I’ve gone to nice events with big people there since I was a young girl. Kids my age at school are fighting to get into clubs and be around an open bar, whereas I’ve had the opportunity to drink and do drugs if I wanted to, and I haven’t. I look around me and go, ‘God’s put me here for a reason. Why would I want to go take a drug or do something that can strip away everything I’ve worked for?’ This business is not peaches and cream, and I’ve fought tooth and nail to earn this spot.”
What a star – we need more teen role models like this!
This blog has highlighted on several occasions the impact that sport can have on young people’s development, so I was interested to hear recently of an initiative in the South-West (of the UK) called Community Action Through Sport (CATS), which was set up in Bude, North Cornwall, eight years ago, to encourage youth involvement in the community by rewarding participants with opportunities to experience new sporting activities, as well as other “healthy living rewards”.
Created initially in response to a local anti-social behaviour problem, the CATS initiative now involves school, youth group, sports and police representatives, as well as the young people themselves, and sets out to improve the latter’s image in the area. CATS branches have already been established across Devon and Cornwall, touching the lives of hundreds of young people, and the securing of additional (Big Lottery & Lloyds TSB) funding means that the programme will now be rolled out across the rest of the UK.
There are five levels of CATS awards, and levels 3-5 are designed to dovetail with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Rewards range from a leisure swim with a friend (Level 1) to an ‘extreme sports’ weekend (Level 5). Sports and other celebrities are usually involved in the award ceremonies.
Although we have seen a number of schemes that use sport to encourage youth volunteering and leadership development, this is the first I have come across that actually uses sporting incentives as prizes – an interesting idea. CATS says, “Volunteering is the Inspiration, Recognition is the key, and Sport is the driving force.”
Shrievalty Award recipients with High Sheriff Harry Vane, at Durham Castle
At an annual award ceremony in Durham (UK) last week 21 young people were recognised for what the Northern Echo newspaper described as “courageous, selfless and community-spirited actions”. These were the recipients of the Shrievalty Awards, which were presented by the outgoing High Sheriff of County Durham, the Honorable Harry Vane, in the Great Hall of Durham Castle. Individuals and groups were among the award winners, many of whom had “overcome adversity” in order to benefit others within their local communities.
One group of youngsters was responsible for reducing crime on their housing estate – 16-year-old Charnie Lamport, her 12-year-old brother Joshua, and their cousin Callum, also aged 12, came forward as witnesses in a case involving anti-social behaviour of youths, just prior to Guy Fawkes Night, last November. As a result, the perpetrators were arrested and charged with the offences, with the result that the disorder issues on the estate have now been virtually eliminated.
Another group recognised at the event was Darlington’s ‘Signing Stars’, represented on this occasion by three of its members – Hope Harvey, Jodie Fyfe and Elaine White. Signing Stars is a sign language choir from Humersknott Academy, which performs choreographed signing and singing for pensioners’ tea parties and raises money for children’s treatment charities at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
A 17-year-old – Lauren Read – was one of the individual award winners. A sporting enthusiast from Teesdale, she has given more than 700 hours of her own time, inspiring and supporting other young sportsmen and women in Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland.
VIPs present to encourage and support the award recipients included four former High Sheriffs; the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon; four Chief Constables (two of whom are currently serving); and three Mayors.
Brave 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban attempt on her life five months ago, after she defied a ban on girls’ education in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, has now resumed her education at Edgbaston High School for Girls, in Birmingham, England.
Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, last year, as she travelled to school. This was in revenge for her outspoken blog, which she had been writing since the age of 11.
But last week the teen – whose quiet defiance has won her the admiration of people around the world – walked to school safely with her father. She told reporters “I want to learn about politics and about social rights, about law, about how to bring change in this world and to work for the happiness and education of all girls. I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity. I miss my classmates from Pakistan very much but I am looking forward to meeting my teachers and making new friends here in Birmingham.”
Her new school uniform, she said, proved that she was a student: she added, proudly, “I’m going to school. I’m learning.”
We are delighted to bring you this update, here at Generosity News.
Malala’s father Ziauddin is currently serving as education attaché at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham, where the family now lives.