The achievements of 70 students from across 1066 country were commended at an awards ceremony for a school initiative on Wednesday (July 13).
The ceremony was the grand finale of the Be the Change programme, an initiative to boost the aspirations and job prospects of young people aged between 13 and 14.
Over the last four months, the students from schools in Hastings, Robertsbridge, Bexhill and Rye have been taking part in a series of activities designed to improve behaviour and to introduce them to job and career opportunities.
The students were congratulated and awarded certificates by their business mentors who had been working with them throughout the programme, on both an individual and group basis.
A student from St Leonards Academy said: “I just really want to say thank you because now I can safely say ‘I can do it’.
“I’ve valued this experience more than anyone understands.
“This has been a massive turning point in my life, so thank you.”
Sussex Learning Network director Sarah Williams described the project as ‘life-changing’ and an innovative way to inspire the next generation.
“Be the Change is a really innovative way to inspire and support vulnerable young people to be the best they can be and I have no doubt that for most of the students, this experience has been life changing,” she said.
“Sussex Learning Network is delighted to have sponsored Be the Change and we hope to be able to continue to support the programme for years to come.”
Be the Change is organised by LoveLocalJobs.com and social enterpise humanutopia with support from Hastings Borough Council, Sussex Learning Network, University of Brighton, Heart FM and local businesses.
Volunteers from 12 local businesses have provided mentoring and opportunities for work place visits to the young people.
Humanutopia co-founder Carlo Missirian said: “It has been an incredible journey not just for these brave young people, but for everyone who has been involved – the teachers, the business volunteers and ourselves.
“Over the last few months we have been inspired by the way in which the students have engaged with us and their peers and as a result have become happier, more confident of their abilities and excited about their futures.
The students come from six secondary schools in the area: Ark Helenswood Academy, Ark William Parker Academy, Robertsbridge Community College, Rye College, St Richard’s Catholic College and The St Leonards Academy.
LoveLocalJobs.com Gary Peters said: “It’s a harsh world out there for young people and many of the students on ‘Be the Change’ have already had to face challenges that most of us couldn’t imagine.
“Our aim is to help them to value both themselves and other people and to develop skills which will enable them to take responsibility for their lives and ambitions.”
Bexhill Academy students are having their graduation for Be the Change, sponsored by Hastings Direct, today (Monday, July 18).
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