Inspirational Lewisham teens were celebrated this week at an awards ceremony in Broadway Theatre.
The Lewisham Awards & Celebration Event aimed to highlight the role played by Lewisham Pupil Ambassadors – a group of dedicated school children and young adults who work with the local council and schools to inspire and encourage their peers.
Filled with music and dance, the ceremony saw teenagers such as Sue Lemos, 16, from Bonus Pastor Catholic College and Fyesa Gabaio, 11, of Adamsrill School, recognised for their roles as ambassadors. Over 70 young people were honoured for what, Jan Shapiro, lead strategist for the programme described as “academic accomplishments, being fantastic role models and achieving against the odds.”
The event was attended by 800 people including local activists Doreen Lawrence and Barry and Margaret Mizen. Barry Mizen of the Jimmy Mizen Foundation told EastLondon Lines: “I think it’s an opportunity to recognise the good and positive contribution young people make to our communities. I’d like to see it expanded out across all the schools in the borough.”
Founded on the principle that positive and inspirational messages encourage achievement, the initiative aims to counteract the negative perception of youth in the media by recognising and rewarding accomplishments.
Made up of 35 ambassadors aged 15 to 21, the group motto is ‘Education is a game with rules. The way you play it determines success’. Through peer mentoring, assemblies in schools and workshops, these committed young people help fellow teens fulfill their potential.
Starting out in 2009 with 12 pupils, Pupil Ambassadors grew out of the success of the Black Pupils’ Achievement Programme in Lewisham. Three years on, the programme continues to grow with past ambassadors, now in university, who come back to support their communities.
Shapiro explains that the programme’s success is measured by a new, more positive culture being fostered in schools. “By raising expectations and creating an ethos of achievement, we can see the positive role the ambassadors play in their individual schools.”
Commending the work done by the ambassadors, the Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock said: “They’re a typical example of Lewisham’s younger generation because they care so much about not only their own futures, but the future of other young people as well.”