Christmas isn’t usually a particularly inspirational time of year for me. When the days darken and snow begins to fall, I would say that most of us crave duvet days over a refreshing run – I know I do! But, I do feel rather inspired this Christmas and that’s all down to this year’s Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire’s Young People of the Year (YOPEY) finalists.
YOPEY is a celebration of young people in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, who dedicate their time giving back to the local people or the community. The scheme aims to give young people a fairer image within the media by “revealing, recognising and rewarding” their incredible achievements.
As one of the main sponsors, KISS had the opportunity to be a part of the judging panel of the YOPEY awards 2017. We attended the event on 29th November to celebrate the finalists’ achievements and to see the winners revealed.
It was obvious that each candidate was honoured to have their work, all of which have the potential to change many lives, recognised by the awards, and I was completely humbled by what they had accomplished.
One finalist was Lucy Stafford, a teenager who suffers from major health problems and as a result spends a significant amount of time in hospital. Despite these challenges, Lucy wanted to help others coping with long periods in hospital. Lucy raises money to fund her Love Bundles, which include bit ‘n’ bobs like socks and chocolate. Despite her own problems, Lucy is always looking for ways to brighten up other patients’ days.
Another was 19-year-old Dominika Grzeszczak, who devotes her time to supporting victims of crime for a local charity. Her nominators described her as empathetic, encouraging and mature, and said she had been a positive role model to young adults who have endured a traumatic experience.
Be it time of year, age or their own challenges, these finalists hadn’t let anything get in the way of helping others. In fact, they’d used their experiences as their inspiration. The majority of them have endured things that many of us will never have to experience. It takes real maturity and motivation to turn a difficult situation into your driving force, and this is what makes these young people role models for generations both young and old.
This is the 5th year in a row that KISS has sponsored the event, and the YOPEY finalists have never failed to amaze us. Their recognition is well deserved to say the least, and they certainly inspired me.
Laura Sans Duran, Junior Planner at KISS, also attended the event at the Old Divinity School in Cambridge. She said: “Listening to the finalists’ journeys really moved me – it was lovely to know that there are such generous young people in our community. It encouraged me to volunteer or support others that have been through a trauma. I’m glad that KISS could have been a part of the finalists’ special day.”