More than 250 West Yorkshire teenagers came together in Leeds to celebrate their achievements on the NCS 360 programme, a co-operative take on the nationwide National Citizen Service scheme.
NCS 360, which was themed ‘Dare, Discover, Do’, was part of a scheme set up by the government to engage sixteen year olds in team-building and community activities during the summer break following their GCSEs. NCS360 was offered by a consortium comprising the Co-operative College, youth organisation Envision, co-operative youth organisation Woodcraft Folk and Change Agents UK, an environmental education charity for young people. The programme included residential trips and adventure challenges, and enabled teenagers to team up to set up and run social projects benefiting their local communities.
The projects, which ranged from visiting care homes to gardening and film-making, were all imaginative, and aimed to make a lasting difference to the community. Some raised awareness of homelessness, mental health issues and sexual health, whilst in Bradford a team spent a week working with the Gateway Centre, helping with practical tasks and fundraising for the centre’s Christmas Box appeal. Another team made improvements to the outdoor classroom at a Catholic primary school and held an open day for the local community to see the results. In Leeds, a team collected cardboard that small retailers cannot afford to recycle and turned it into mulch for a community garden. One team cycled 81 miles up the Leeds and Liverpool canal in fancy dress to raise money for the children’s wing at Leeds General Hospital.
The NCS 360 celebration event, which was held in the grand surroundings of Leeds Corn Exchange, was a chance for the participants to meet up with the friends they had made during the scheme, as well as members of the communities benefiting from their projects, and receive recognition for their efforts.
As well as receiving awards, participants were treated to pizza and nachos and entertained by a photo booth, cartoonist and live magician. Some even joined in with an energetic break dance performance! Several lucky raffle winners also received prizes such as iTunes vouchers or a digital camera.
Julie Thorpe, Head of School and Youth Programmes at the Co-operative College, said: “We are very proud of everyone who took part in NCS 360 this summer, and we are sure that the skills and experiences participants have gained will continue to benefit them in the future, whether in further education or in their working careers.”
She continued: “The social projects we have seen the teams undertake really show off what teenagers can contribute to their local communities, and demonstrate what young people can achieve when they work together. We are sure that all the communities which benefited from the projects will continue to enjoy their legacy for some time to come, and we hope this scheme will go some way towards challenging the often-negative stereotypes of young people.”
Further photos from the event: