From helping the homeless to clothing children who live in poverty and being a wheelchair whizz kid on the tennis court, these were the winners of Rotary’s Young Citizen Award. Their achievements were recognised last month at the Rotary national conference in Torquay, receiving their awards from BBC TV presenter Ellie Crisell. Here are their stories.
Nominated by Rotary Club of Redbridge
Jamala, pictured left, became a carer for her brother and twin sister as a teenager after suffering from depression and the loss of their mother.
Growing up in Ilford, she was surrounded by gang culture and violence.
By 14-years-old, she had been kicked out of her father’s house and lost contact with her siblings, and it was only four years later when she reconnected with her siblings to become their carer.
Jamala was accepted on to the highly competitive Barclay’s apprenticeship programme. Now aged 24, she is a branch manager, is considered one of the bank’s most successful apprentices who regularly speaks at schools about mental health and making positive life choices.
Nominated by Rotary Club of Leith
Saddened by the sight of a growing number of rough sleepers in the Edinburgh area, 11-year-old Joseph decided to take action.
His simple idea “Socks for the Street” touched the hearts of people in the local community and around the world. The charity collects new socks, underwear, gloves, hats, scarves and boots for the homeless.
He persuaded his school to be a drop off point for donations and has set up a Facebook page and an Amazon wish-list of essentials for keeping warm on the streets. Joseph even travels with items in the family car everywhere they go in case he spots someone in need.
Nominated by Rotary Club of Corstorphine
Ryan, 16, from Edinburgh is committed to helping others through first-aid and set up his own charity, Corstorphine Emergency Response.
He has been administering first-aid since the age of 12, supports events and trains fellow students and teachers at Craigmount High School to deliver CPR.
After realising how important defibrillators were, Ryan set up a campaign to raise funds to supply four defibrillators for his local community. He did this through various means including collecting 300 old mobile phones.
Nominated by Rotary Satellite Club of Chesterfield
In September 2012, Andrew, then 13, became very unwell. He was referred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a rare and a rapidly spreading disease if not treated quickly.
Over the following months he endured courses of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
Thankfully Andrew recovered and decided he wanted to give something back. Realising a bone marrow transplant costs £150,000, he set his sights on raising the same amount so other young lives could be saved.
Now aged 19, Andrew’s fund-raising total stands at nearly £140,000.
Nominated by Rotary Club of Bradford West
Rebekah, 20, was so deeply concerned by the desperate lack of children’s clothing in the deprived community of West Bowling, Bradford, that she set up the Children’s Clothes Bank at the age of 16.
With help from a local toddler group and her own school with collections of clothing, she has helped many families from all backgrounds, including refugees.
The clothes are sorted at her local church and distributed in exchange for vouchers which Rebekah designed called C2C (child-to-child). The vouchers reach families in need through a network of health visitors, social workers and the local children’s centre. When families come to the clothing bank, they exchange the vouchers for good quality clothes.
Nominated by Rotary Club of Gloucester
Dale set up a disability football team when he was 14. Two years later, he opened a social enterprise sports shop in Gloucester to create employment for the players and generate funds.
When Dale finished school, he committed to the enterprise full-time, which gives people the confidence and skills towards mainstream employment and move from institutional to independent living.
The enterprise creates funds enabling young players to take FA Level 1 coaching courses. A couple of the players lacked the necessary literacy skills and confidence so Dale trained alongside them.
Four hundred young people have benefited. Dale runs the largest pan-disability football club in the UK, with 13 adult and three children’s sides. He has set up one of only five disabled ladies’ teams in the country and one deaf team with over 130 regular players.
Rotary Young Citizen WheelPower Sports Award Winner
Nominated by Rotary Club of Long Eaton
Fifteen-year-old Abbie has a muscle-wasting disease and a spinal cord syrinx which has left her wheelchair-bound.
This award is presented jointly by Rotary and by the charity WheelPower, which provides opportunities in sport for people with physical impairments.
Abbie, who has always loved sport, did not let this stop her and she started playing wheelchair tennis two years ago. She trains several times a week and attends tennis camps across the country. Her dream is to represent Team GB at the Paralympics and to play at Wimbledon.
Abbie is one of two girl tennis players and five boys picked for the Tennis Foundation’s new programme to produce world class wheelchair tennis players. She is also an ambassador for This Girl Can, encouraging other girls to improve their life through sport.