The last year has been especially tough for young people who have struggled with home schooling and been without daily contact with friends and their wider support group. Yet with these challenges many young people have shown remarkable resilience and a number have been involved in helping others in the community who they view as having a harder time than them.
The West Midlands Lieutenancy aims to reward and celebrate people doing extraordinary things to support their community and each year individuals and charity volunteers are recognised through the established Honours system. Until last year there has not been a special award for young people going the “extra mile” to help others but it was decided to introduce one to acknowledge the outstanding contribution young people were making during the pandemic and to continue this award in future years to highlight the incredible things young people do.
The West Midlands Lieutenancy Young Active Citizen Award was launched last autumn and schools across the region were invited to share stories of pupils who they knew were contributing in amazing ways.
Nominations came from across the region with young people showing caring, dedication and passion to help others. As well as dedicating many hours of volunteering, many showed initiative and imagination in how they were helping others.
There were children helping promote and run food banks, delivering meals for those in need and challenges to raise money for the NHS. Others recorded themselves reading books to share with younger children, set up youth clubs and youth kitchens to prevent children going onto the streets.
There are inspirational stories of visits to recovery and rehabilitation centres, buying nail polish to paint elderly patient nails and even creating songs to sing to NHS staff.
Their efforts were amazing and each one will receive a signed certificate from the Lord-Lieutenant, John Crabtree OBE, who is delighted with the response. He said; “We knew young people were doing some fantastic activities to help others but the new award has provided an opportunity to find out how much is going on and how young people are contributing. It is hugely heart-warming to hear their stories and I am impressed with their ingenuity and the lengths they have gone to make such a positive contribution to help others.
“I am looking forward to meeting many of them later in the year and I am grateful for all the schools that helped highlight their endeavours to us.” From all 38 nominations, fourteen young people have been chosen to meet the Lord-Lieutenant to receive their prize at a ceremony later in the year (when hopefully we can do this).
These young people include:
Harvey Kataria from St Michael’s School, Dudley who supported and promoted the Black Country foodbank with a “Kindness Is Powerful” campaign around National Kindness Day on November 13.
Emily and Oliver Lonsdale from Bristnall Hall Academy, Oldbury who coordinated their own food donation scheme and promoted it to support the Smethwick Foodbank.
Saimah Zulfiquar, a pupil at Edgbaston High School for Girls, who read and recorded a different book each week that could be accessed to the younger pupils in the school to support home schooling.
Jayme Nelson from Sandwell Community School who used the year to turn his life around and achieve some amazing results that include winning a Young Writer’s Prize for his short poem “Stuck in the Freezer”.
Grace Bullman from Finham Park School in Coventry used a wheel barrow to go round the streets locally and give books and teddies to children.
Aran Bansal from King Edward’s School, Edgbaston set up the “26 Challenge “ which aimed to raise money for the NHS to make up for money not being raised from marathons. He got his school on a 260km bike ride in May, on fitness campaigns with 26 press-ups and running 26 miles a week to raise a staggering £8,100 for the NHS charity!
Liam Ubalde from Pines Special School in Erdington for supporting his parents when both were unwell and keeping their spirits up.
Brock Daffern of Heath School, Wolverhampton who used his own 3D printer to produce headbands for protective visors before distributing them to the NHS.
Ashley Copson of Pool Hayes Academy in Willenhall volunteered for Walsall Outreach and delivered hampers, fish and chips to the elderly, vulnerable and homeless every week.
J-Jay and Maison Whiston from Ninestiles, an Academy in Acocks Green volunteered for the Fox Hollies Forum, a community group that represents 4,000 local residents. They set up a Youth Kitchen and Youth Club, hoping to keep children like them from hanging around the streets, or sitting at home attached to a phone or games console.
Emma Wood and Chelsea Jade Grant from St Michaels, Dudley, who played a major role in improving a local park and being advocates for young people in the community.
The above will all receive a certificate and prize from the Lord-Lieutenant in the coming year and all nominations will be receiving certificates of recognition signed by the Lord-Lieutenant.