Teens receive national honor for their work raising mental health awareness
A group of inspirational teenagers from North Devon, who are at the forefront of changing the way mental health awareness is taught in schools, have received a Rotary Young Citizen Award. Spark UK received the honor from BBC presenter Ellie Crisell at a ceremony celebrating the success of Ilfracombe schoolchildren who have championed change in the mental health curriculum, as the founder explains, Conor Warren.
“We are delighted to have received this Young Citizen Award from Rotary Great Britain and Ireland. We have been nominated by Ilfracombe Rotary for the work we do with young people to spark conversations about mental health, raise awareness and reduce stigma. We are so proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time and to receive this award at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week is truly special and thoughtful. We are a group of young people using our experiences to help other young people address this really important topic.
“Spark UK was created in 2020 when we regularly came together as a group to speak out against poor mental health support in schools,” continues Bridie Downing, Content Manager. “We decided to do something and Spark UK started! We aimed to create updated and relevant school resources, assemblies and lesson plans for pupils and we now have over 300 schools across England using our resources which is amazing for a group of North Devon schoolchildren looking to make a change.
“We know that teachers are currently under enormous pressure and do not have the training or the time to devote to mental health support. It made us even more passionate and excited to use our skills and experience to help make a change and a difference for our own generation.” Adds Joseph Carter, head of written content. “We know the pressures and emotions that kids our age go through and not everyone is safe talking about their feelings or getting help. Our ambition is to shed the stigma around mental health and create an up-to-date and relevant curriculum that reflects what young people across the country are going through right now.
By sparking these life-saving conversations and resources, the teen-led organization has not only sparked the interest of educators across the country, but also garnered celebrity attention and endorsement, as lead Tegan Philips explains. communications.
“Last Christmas we held a hugely successful festive ‘All Star Advent Calendar’, where we invited celebrities such as Dame Emma Thompson, Dr Alex George, Bradley Walsh, Stephen Fry and Steve Backshall to share with us their mental health advice and stories. We have been delighted and impressed by the support we have received from so many famous people. We know that by sharing these stories through our advent calendar, it has encouraged other young people to open up and talk about their own mental health, which is just fantastic.
The Young Citizen Award is an annual award organized by Rotary GB & Ireland. It was created in 2007 to highlight and celebrate the positive citizenship and important responsibilities assumed by many young people under the age of 25.
As well as raising awareness and creating resources for schools, Spark UK also helps raise funds to support the charity work of Young Minds. They are sponsored and supported by Blue Elephant Childcare, Devon. More information about Spark UK and their school resources can be found at www.sparkuk.co.uk
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