Last week, two Year 8 students from John Smeaton Academy in Leeds attended the Diana Award National Youth Mentoring Summit, where they were joined by HRH Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, to celebrate their outstanding social action work.
Through the Diana Award Mentoring Programme, young people are encouraged and supported to be part of positive change in their wider community by taking part in a social action project of their choice. Students work together in small groups with dedicated mentors from local businesses to complete the project, whilst at the same time strengthening their workplace skills.
Over 70 students at John Smeaton Academy took part in the initiative this year, working in three groups to complete social action projects that focused on homelessness, mental health and wellbeing, and anti-social behaviour. Out of these students, Year 8s Chantel Atkinson and Shauna Waldron were specially selected to attend this week’s national awards ceremony in London for the exceptional display of commitment they showed to the programme.
At the event, the students formed part of a group of mentees who welcomed keynote speaker Prince Harry and got the opportunity to speak to him about their efforts. Chantel and Shauna explained how participating in the award has helped them to grow in confidence and allowed them to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing among their peers. They are now looking to build on what they have learnt through the experience by leading a year-group assembly on the power on mentoring.
Giving students the opportunity to take part in the Diana Award is just one example of how John Smeaton Academy seeks to deliver an ‘Education with Character’ for its students, alongside the academic curriculum. This means that, across the school, students are given opportunities that challenge and inspire them, helping to build character, compassion and service. By completing all three social actions projects, the students were able to develop these vital skills, positively impacting on their school and local community, and raising over £300 for charity in the process.
Speaking at the event, Chantel said:
“It has always been my dream to meet Prince Harry. I can’t believe it has come true. This means so much to me.”
“The Diana Award has helped with my confidence and speaking to people. Having a mentor made a big difference to me.”
Claire Bailey, Head of School at John Smeaton Academy, said;
“Congratulations to all of our students who took part in this year’s Diana Award and to Chantel and Shauna for being fantastic ambassadors for our school at the recent summit in London. The success of this year’s programme is testament to the commitment and dedication of our students, as well as their inspiring mentors, who worked together to complete three very worthwhile social action projects. We look forward to continuing to give our students the opportunity to take part in exciting, educational experiences like this in the future.”