role models

Teen tipped for top position

Teen tipped for top position

William Land (centre) with Councillors Catherine Boardman & Alex Hopkins of Northamptonshire County Council.

A fourteen-year-old volunteer has been named ‘young role model of the year’, at the Northamptonshire Education Awards: William Land was also tipped as a future Prime Minister by Shailen Popat, who nominated him for the award. Shailen runs the RealiZe Youth Club in Kilsby, which William has attended for two years, and where he has volunteered for the last year. The Ashlawn School grammar-stream pupil also attends football coaching and helps coach girls football, as well as assisting his single mother with looking after three young siblings, one of whom has a disability. Shailen says “Will is a unique person because he does all this while maintaining dignity, politeness, reliability”. I think we’d have to agree that the country could do far worse than have this young lad at the helm!

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Limbless 7-year-old raises over £2000 on charity walk

Limbless 7-year-old raises over £2000 on charity walk

Photo: Ellie-Mae with friend Leah (7) & brother Owen Rigby (4)

A seven-year-old who lost both legs and one arm to infant meningitis has raised more than £2000 in a charity walk, on behalf of her church roof fund.

Last week Ellie-Mae Mellor of Burslem completed 400 metres around Northwood Stadium in aid of St Mary’s Church, Norton. Ellie-Mae – a pupil at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School – contracted meningococcal septicaemia when just a few months old, and lost three limbs, as well as her cheeks, earlobes, top lip and fingertips. To the surprise of experts, who said she had only a slim chance of survival and would probably be unable to move around, she has come through a total of 76 operations (so far) with a fighting spirit, and learning that her church might have to close if the roof couldn’t be repaired very soon, she determined to help with its fund-raising campaign by doing her own charity walk.

Financial and other support for Ellie-Mae’s amazing fund-raising event on 10 July came from a variety of sources, including Mercedes-Benz and card company Carte Blanche, as well as through her website http://www.elliemaemellor.co.uk/, and personal donations on the day. Initially she had hoped to raise £250, but the final total was nearly ten times that. Her indomitable spirit and the publicity raised by her brave effort rightly attracted a lot of givers, resulting in her achieving almost 10% of the total raised by the church’s roof-repair fund to date. Tearful tributes have been paid to her sterling efforts, and her headteacher has been quoted as saying that she is “the most inspirational and determined child [he has] ever met”. On the day, more than two hundred children cheered the seven-year-old on, as she completed the challenging walk in just 45 minutes.

What a star! It’s probably still not too late to make a donation, if you visit Ellie-Mae’s website now.

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A silver lining to the Recession

Recession

They say that every cloud has a silver lining. Well, a study just out – from UCLA and San Diego State University – suggests that the current recession could be partly responsible for an increased concern for social problems and the environment, among US teens.

While the Generosity News website usually focuses on UK young people, the report of the survey, Monitoring the Future (which has been running for 38 years, and questions 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th graders in the USA), almost certainly has relevance to the situation here in the UK, too, so I thought it worth reporting on here.

Researchers asked the young people questions such as the following:

  • Would you eat differently to help starving people?” and “Do you want your future job to be altruistic?” (Concern for others.)
  • “Do you conserve energy/electricity around the house?” and “Do you bike or use mass transit?” (Concern for the environment.)
  • “How important to you is it to own expensive clothes or have a job that makes a lot of money?” (Materialism.)
  • “Do you think that you’re smarter than your peers?” (Self-esteem.)

The replies received suggest that living through the latest recession has given these teens more concern for others and for the environment. Apparently, 63% now try to save electricity, compared to 55% previously, and more now use bicycles and mass transit. There has also been an increase in concerns over social problems. And unlike in previous recessions, today’s young people seem to have a higher regard for themselves, showing a healthy increase in self-esteem over previous surveys.

These are very encouraging results: long may the trend continue, regardless of the future economic situation!

Further details: Park H, Twenge JM, Greenfield PM. The Great Recession: Implications for Adolescent Values and Behavior. Social Psychological and Personality Science. 2013.

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Luton Community Awards

Luton Community Awards

On Friday we looked at an award scheme that – though not entirely about young people – aims to provide recognition for the volunteering work of youth in the community, amongst other categories. So it’s fitting that today I mention another scheme that does just that, too.

The Luton Community Awards, which are now into their fourth year, have two categories that are specifically for honouring the achievements of young people:

  • Concern Award / Improving Lives… to recognise any under-18 who has overcome a personal difficulty or made a stand to improve their life or the lives of others. (For example, young people coping with bereavement, bullying, disability or medical problems, or someone who has organised support for others who face such problems.)
  • Young Hero… for outstanding teams, individuals or organisations working in the private, public or voluntary sector. (For example, someone working within health or social care whose extra efforts have made a real difference to the life of someone vulnerable or a disadvantaged group.)

People living and working in the Luton area are being encouraged to nominate local ‘unsung heroes’ for the awards, which are sponsored by the law firm Pictons. There are fourteen categories of award, in total, and nominations will close on Monday September 2.

As well as recognising award winners the scheme makes charitable donations. Last year they raised £10,000 each for Keech Hospice Care and a community project in Malawi (involving students from Luton’s Sixth Form College); and this year the recipients will be the Children’s Ward at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital, and the Keech Hospice, once again.

Visit the award webpage now, to make your nomination… http://www.communitycommunications.co.uk/nomination.html.

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Swansea Bay Volunteer Awards

Swansea Bay Volunteer Awards

New Swansea Bay is a recently-created non-profit community organisation in Port Talbot, South Wales, UK, seeking to lower hospital admissions, and increase community safety & cohesion.  It is currently organising a local volunteer award scheme – the Swansea Bay Volunteer Awards, sponsored by Grosvenor Casino, Swansea – to recognise unsung heroes in Neath, Port Talbot and Swansea.

Although the awards cover volunteers of all ages there are two special categories for young people, which will be of particular interest to regular readers of this blog: Young Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Skidz Karting – any volunteer under the age of 18 who lives in the Swansea Bay Area will be eligible; and Child of Courage, sponsored by the Derwen Group – this will apply to under-16s who have demonstrated courage facing up to any situation such as family problems, ill-health, or other challenges or adversity, or achievements at school.

There are just four weeks, from today, to submit nominations. To nominate someone, go to http://www.newswanseabay.co.uk/awards.php and click on the relevant category. Finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony in Port Talbot on Friday 27 September, which will be compered by Kevin Johns MBE, a broadcaster and entertainer who has been featured on this site previously. A number of other celebrities will also be present at the event. Tickets for the awards ceremony are also available at the website. Proceeds from the evening will go to New Swansea Bay and The Welsh Air Ambulance. Raffle prizes for the event, as well as general donations, are also currently being sought from local businesses.

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