Meet the winners of this year's Over the Rainbow awards
I knew from the moment I arrived at this year’s Over the Rainbow awards we were in for a great day. One room was set up for the awards ceremony and the others were full of amazing activities including samba drumming, jewellery making and even body zorbing.
This was the sixth annual Over the Rainbow event, and I was there to help Imogen, one of the young people who had helped organise the day, tweet about what was happening from our @ChildSocVoice Twitter account. In doing so, I got the chance to hear why children and young people we work with had been nominated for awards.
The stories were incredible. They featured children turning their lives around or making a real difference to their local community. I was so impressed by the hard work, resilience and positive attitudes these young people had shown in what were often tough circumstances.
It made me feel proud to belong to an organisation that works with such amazing young people.
This year's winners
Advisory Group for Sex and Relationship project, Tower Hamlets
The Advisory Group for Sex and Relationship project in Tower Hamlets won their award for their work promoting the rights of young people with disabilities. Earlier this year the group put together a video, My Choices, which looked at supporting young disabled people so that they can be properly informed about sex education and relationships.
Juanita, a young adult from the group said: ‘We are very proud to have won this award and we hope that our video helps young people to look after themselves and be safe.’
Beatz of Happiness, Leeds
Beatz of Happiness, a group of talented refugees from Leeds, won their award for making a difference to the lives of other young people. As part of their voluntary work, the group shared their experiences of seeking refuge and rebuilding their life in the UK at a conference. They covered key issues such as school life and the way schools can ensure young refugees are welcomed, included and provided with the opportunity to flourish.
The group also helped put together an induction resource aimed at welcoming new arrivals to their youth club which is run on a weekly basis at St George's Centre in Leeds.
David won his award for taking on a leadership role and being a positive role model. Despite having issues hearing words and remembering everything that is said, David speaks in front of professionals and at school assemblies. He supports other young people to feel confident and trains new workers.
David said: 'I’m really pleased to win this award. I try to help other people to feel safe to talk in situations when they may feel a little scared. I also try to show other young people that it’s ok to be you and be honest about any difficulties they might have.'
Ellie won her award for her personal achievement in overcoming obstacles despite difficult times. Since 2012, she has suffered with severe anxiety which left her unable to go to school. However Ellie is now an active part in a local intergenerational group that encourages young and elderly groups in the community to spend time together.
Ellie said: 'I feel like I have achieved a lot and I am proud of receiving this award. Now I want to be aware of other people and help them in any way I can like when we have new members at the intergenerational group I want to make them feel welcome.'
Kaiyne, Tees Valley
Kaiyne won his award for his personal achievement to turn his life around despite difficult circumstances. Kaiyne has built a great relationship with his mentor Marty and he now enjoys attending school and has become a valued member of a children’s commission called Amplify Group. The Amplify Group gives children and young people a voice on issues of importance to them, and a chance to try and change things at government level.
Kaiyne said: 'Joining the children’s commission has taken me out of my comfort zone which was scary at first but I’m really glad I did it. I have more and more things to enjoy now and it’s helped me with my confidence.'
Kerry won her award for her personal achievement for turning her life around. A few years ago, Kerry felt everyone had 'written her off' and she wasn't able to go to school. Since then, Kerry has gained confidence to join the sea cadets and importantly, she now takes pride in her education.
Kerry said: 'I'm proud of myself for overcoming so many challenges and I’ve been able to rebuild relationships with my family. I'm pleased that I can use my experience to help others now by giving advice to other young people.'
Martyna won her award for her contribution to the development of work at the charity. Martyna has been involved with the Dream Markers Arts project which championed issues of citizenship and belonging for migrant children through art and photography.
Martyna co-curated one of the exhibitions and also published a blog on her experience.
Oumar, West Midlands
Oumar (not pictured) won his award for being able to turn his life around despite difficult circumstances. He moved from Guinea to Italy and then moved on to the UK. Without any family support, Oumar has blossomed into a polite young adult who is working hard at studying sports coaching at college.
Oumar said: 'I like to talk to new people at the youth club I go to despite where they come from. I feel really motivated about my future now and I am going for trials with premiership football teams.'