Poorly children at North Tees University Hospital will think that Christmas has come early following a very generous delivery of toys and games by a group of thoughtful teenagers.
The team, made up of 16 and 17 year olds from the East Durham area, were taking part in National Citizen Service (NCS) over the summer holidays. The scheme culminates in a young person led community project – with teenagers planning their own fundraising projects and researching a good cause to support.
With NCS, the team had previously visited an adrenaline-filled residential at Ford Castle in Northumberland, taking part in activities like canoeing and zip wiring, followed by a university-style stay in halls of residence in Durham.
The residential phases brought new friends together and helped build the group’s confidence, leadership and communication skills, with the project culminating in a community project with the group making a real difference to their local area.
The team took part in a sponsored dip at Seaham beach and spent time bag packing at Iceland in Peterlee in order to raise £400 to go towards the purchase of toys and games for children staying on the ward.
16 year old Courteney Ayre, from Easington in County Durham, said: “I was in and out of the ward as I was growing up and suggested to the rest of the group that we should do something special for them. Everyone thought it was a great idea and we planned out some fundraising activities together.
“We wanted to give the children using the ward some new and exciting toys. The staff were thrilled when we dropped them off.”
Former Apollo Studio Academy student Courteney has just started studying for her AS levels at Sunderland College. She added: “My NCS experience has been outstanding. I’d recommend others to get involved as soon as you can!”
North Tees University Hospital’s play specialist Sandra Jackson said: “It is always a pleasure to accept donations like this.
“The group have really thought about what type of activities the children and young people would like to play with.
“We would like to say thank you to the group; their generosity is gratefully received.”
The group was supported by NCS delivery partner East Durham College. Coordinator Tina Lavelle said: “I am so proud of this team. From the very start of the programme they have shown real determination.
“They researched the needs of children and young people who use the ward and put huge effort into reaching their fundraising goals.”
The next NCS programme, open to 16 and 17 year olds in year 12 or 13 or equivalent provision, will be running over the autumn half-term, departing Friday 21 st October or Monday 24 th October. Those just starting year 11 will have a first chance to take part in summer 2017.
Because of government-backing, the cost of the programme will never be more than £50, with bursaries available to young people eligible for free school meals. To express interest and enquire into availability in your area, parents or teenagers should call 0191 247 4020 or visit NCSNORTHEAST.co.uk