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- 18 June 2015 00:00
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Last month over 160 young people attended the annual StreetGames Youth Conference and Awards which took place in the heart of Staffordshire at Yarnfield Park Business and Conference Centre.
During the two day event the young people attended training courses and met sporting champions Natasha Jonas (Olympic Boxer) and Kerys Harrop (Birmingham and England Footballer) to hear about their career highs and lows and the impact sport has had on their lives. The gala dinner celebrated the achievements of the young people with the StreetGames National Young Volunteer Awards.
The evening was hosted by two StreetGames Young Advisors, Beth Taylor and Jason Elkaleh, with special guests Natasha Jonas and StreetGames’ Chief Executive Jane Ashworth OBE. Eighteen awards were judged from regional and national winners to special categories and over-all UK Winner, the atmosphere was tremendous with winner’s narratives being applauded by their peers.
The victors on the evening included Megan Riley who was named the StreetGames UK Sports Volunteer of the Year 2015 and Best New Volunteer. The 16 year old from Burnley was nominated for the support she provides to her local CLUB1, an exciting new programme that is revolutionising the way young people are engaging with solo sports and fitness. Megan is still recovering from an extremely serious trampoline accident and has to now live with a serious back condition causing a lot of pain on a daily basis. Due to this condition Megan has developed alopecia with the stress and amount of pain she is in, yet she still manages to support others in her community.
Megan said, "Winning the awards was such an amazing moment, it was such a great experience and opportunity just being invited to go to the StreetGames Conference. I never in a million years believed I could win! It has definitely boosted my confidence and made me want to carry on volunteering, as it made me realise how much volunteering helps different people in various ways."
Panda Harrison from Sport North Tyneside was awarded the Best Youth Led Activity as well as winning the Award for England’s Best Young Sports Volunteer. The awards recognise Panda’s commitment to improving the lives of others within his community.
Steven Morrell from StreetGames Swindon received the Unsung Hero Award. Steve’s story began when he failed his Army medical, dropped out of college and needed a new challenge. StreetGames helped him reach goals and gain lots of personal skills. He has gone on to assist and inspire thousands of local residents to get active including the young, the elderly, people with disabilities, stroke, CHD patients and those people who had no belief in themselves. He has completed an amazing 486 hours volunteering to date on varied weekly sessions and one off events.
Steven Mapstone also from StreetGames Swindon was named the Volunteers’ Volunteer of the Year 2015 in recognition of his hard work and the transformation he has shown. Steven was involved in a lot of crime and by his own admission was on the road to prison, but turned his life around when he began volunteering with StreetGames Swindon via the Youth Offending Team. Steven did so well that he gained paid roles with Swindon Town FC and Swindon Council, was released 6 months early from the Youth Offending Team programme, hailed as an example of best practice by the courts!
Megan, Panda and the two Stevens are just four of the incredible young people that are making a huge difference in their communities.
Jane Ashworth OBE, CEO of StreetGames, said: "The StreetGames Young Volunteers make a huge positive impact in the lives of people both young and old in the communities by volunteering their time and working hard to gain new skills. It’s important to recognise the vital role ‘Local Heroes’ like Megan, Panda and Steven play day in, day out to bring sport into communities across the country. It’s a real joy to celebrate their achievements. I’d like to thank all our young volunteers for their support and wish them the best of luck for the future.”
The StreetGames Young Volunteers programme offers volunteering opportunities for 14-25 year-olds within StreetGames projects, helping them make a positive difference in their local community, as well as developing their confidence, self-esteem and community leadership skills. The programme has engaged more than 10,000 young volunteers, operating in over 150 projects in the 20 per cent of most deprived communities in England, Wales and Scotland. Over this period, over 9,000 qualifications have been accessed, ranging from sports-specific coaching diplomas through to health and safety qualifications and 1,900 young people have gone into paid employment, education or training.