Local teens make a difference in Dartford and Gravesend as part of autumn youth programme

A group of 16 and 17 year olds from Dartford and Gravesend have spent their autumn weekends giving back to the community following an autumn half-term learning new skills and meeting new friends on the National Citizen Service (NCS) youth programme delivered by Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT).

The group of 21, who met for the first time just three weeks ago, worked together to create their own social action project using the skills they had developed on the programme. After learning about the issues of mental health and cancer care in Dartford and Gravesend, the group chose to dedicate their project to Coppafeel! and North Kent Mind by organising a 7.5 mile sponsored walk from Gravesend to Dartford, raising valuable awareness for the charities and over £130 in donations.

The team were congratulated and wished well on their way by Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Gravesham, Councillor Harold Craske, who was present at the start of the walk.

Councillor Harold Craske was eager to praise the team’s endeavours, saying, "Young people today always amaze me.  They were out on a cold November day raising funds and awareness for North Kent Mind and Coppafeel! charities.  I was delighted to meet them and then start them off on their walk from Gravesend to Dartford.  Well done to them all.  They are a credit to young people."

Prior to creating their social action project the team, guided by CACT’s NCS team leaders David Ofori-Safo and Nicola Reid, had moved into outdoor activity centre accommodation and undertaken a variety of challenges designed to take them out of their comfort zones and develop confidence, social and team-building skills through adventures such as rock climbing and canoeing. They then went on to learn life skills such as cooking and budgeting for themselves during the second phase of the programme, before learning about the most pressing issues facing their local communities; skills and information used to plan and develop their social action project.

David Ofori-Safo, NCS team leader at CACT, says: “This has been the most incredible autumn. The team had so much fun, tried something new every day and met friends for life.”

He continues: “The social action project has been the highlight of our NCS experience. It was amazing to be able to see the project through and realise the huge difference we can make if we put our minds to it – the sense of achievement at the end when crossed that finishing line was something I’d never experienced before and it really bonded the group. I’d definitely encourage other young people to give it a go.”

Coppafeel representative, Kirsty Joanes, commented, “The money David, Nicola and the team raised will enable us to keep spreading our life saving message, educating young people about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, encouraging them to check their boobs regularly, and instilling in them the confidence to visit their GP if something doesn't feel right. We couldn't do our work without amazing boob heroes like David, Nicola  and the Autumn NCS wave! We salute you guys!”

NCS takes place during the spring, summer and autumn school holidays all across Kent and Sussex, and costs no more than £50, which covers the entire experience from food and accommodation to activities and travel, with bursaries available on a case by case basis. Young people and their parents can register their interest today at ncscxk.co.uk.

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