Local teenagers aiming to reduce anti-social behaviour in one pocket of Stockton have set to work improving the gardens of a recently reopened community centre.
The 15 teens, from across Stockton and Billingham, only met each other four weeks ago and have spent their summer on National Citizen Service (NCS) – a project that sees 16-17 year olds meet new people, build skills and give back to the community.
In their final week of the programme, the youngsters have been renovating the garden area at Primrose Hill Community Centre in Stockton.
Explaining the reason behind their project, team member Amrit Muirhead, 16, said: “We heard that since the community centre reopened last summer anti-social behaviour in the local area has reduced. With this in mind we came up with the idea of renovating the centre’s gardens to ensure that local young people have more to keep them occupied and out of trouble. The garden can now be used for BBQs, a meeting place, a working garden and for other events for years to come.
“The staff have been really chuffed with the work we’ve completed.”
Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham heard about the group’s work and decided to pay a visit to see the impact the teenagers have made to the centre.
Alex said: “The young people have achieved so much in such a short time. It shows what can be accomplished when their collective skills and ambition are used for the greater good.
“NCS is a fantastic project that helps young people get new skills, meet new people and add to their CV. Well done to everyone involved.”
NCS provides young people aged 16-17 the chance to take on new challenges, experience exciting activities, make long-lasting friendships and develop vital skills that will support them later in life. It was launched to tackle three core issues of importance to society: social cohesion, social mobility and social engagement.
16 year old Abbie Cuthbert said: “I’ve had a really fun time taking part in NCS. I’ve made new friends, challenged myself and built skills like independence and confidence.
“Four weeks ago I wouldn’t have spoken to a ‘stranger’. Now I don’t understand how I never could!”
Over 500,000 young people have completed the NCS programme to date, giving in excess of 12 and half million hours to social action projects since NCS started.
To find out more about NCS, including information on how to take part, go to www.ncsyes.co.uk. Teenagers who missed out on the summer programme have another chance to take part in the autumn half-term.