More than 40 Neale-Wade Academy students recruited as 'community ambassadors' thanks to £10,000 funding boost
A number of Neale-Wade Academy students have been recruited as 'community ambassadors' as part of a new programme to get young people involved in social action.
The community ambassador programme is spearheaded by Fenland-based arts organisation 20Twenty Productions and before launching the project they only planned to take on 10 people.
Forty five of the Year 8 pupils have already taken on a number of tasks including painting more than 300 children’s faces in Wisbech and helping promote recycling with the council’s environmental team.
The project – which was launched with a £10,000 funding boost from Clarion Futures – has already attracted the attention of the school’s executive principal Jason Wing, who says it’s an “opportunity to give back to the local community”.
Katherine Nightingale of 20Twenty Productions said: “The response to our community ambassador programme from the young people was fantastic.
“Our initial target was only to get 10 young people so we are so thrilled to have such an engaged group who give up their time on a weekly basis to meet with us”.
Matt Parsonage, head of communities at Clarion Futures, said: “The benefits of community ambassador programmes are extraordinary for young people and their communities.
“It’s brilliant to see how enthusiastically the 20Twenty Productions team have thrown themselves into making a positive difference in March, and I can’t wait to see what else they achieve.”
Mrs Nightingale added: “Next month, the group will be hosting a social action and youth voice conference thanks to additional funding from the Cambridgeshire Community Fund.
“On Friday, October 5 at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, the ‘Make a Difference’ conference will be attended by 60 Year 8 and Year 9 pupils, with the hope of inspiring more young people to engage positively in community action.
“Speakers are set to include a UK youth ambassador from Peterborough, a Clarion Futures national ambassador and a previous chair of Fenland Youth District Council.”
Since the programme’s launch in April, the ambassadors have been involved in a range of initiatives, including:
• Bicycle security tagging with local PCSOs;
• Planting a sensory garden for residents with dementia at Aria Court Care Home in March;
• Playing games and doing crafts with elderly residents at Clarion Housing’s Bradshaw Court sheltered housing scheme.
The young people also had the opportunity to attend a residential weekend at Grafham Water where they did team building exercises, and had the opportunity to speak up about issues in their community that affected them.
Councillor Mark Buckton, cabinet member for young people who joined the group for this session, said “The content of the session was quite illuminating and provided food for thought regarding future possibilities”.