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OUTSTANDING YOUNG HEROES IN BELFAST RECEIVE AWARD IN MEMORY OF PRINCESS DIANA

22 young people from across NI will be publicly honoured with The Diana Award for going above and beyond in their daily lives to create and sustain positive change.

3 June 2019

Today 22 inspirational children and teens, from across Northern Ireland, will be presented with the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts – The Diana Award.   The ceremony comes as The Diana Award celebrates its 20th anniversary year. 

Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex.

The Award Holders were joined by CEO Tessy Ojo and special guests

These exceptional young people have demonstrated their ability to inspire and mobilise their own generation to service their communities through campaigning, volunteering, fundraising, tackling bullying or overcoming extreme life challenges.  Although their causes and backgrounds are varied, what they all have in common is that they are changing their communities and the world as Princess Diana believed they could.

MAYA BALLENTINE

SHIMNA INTEGRATED COLLEGE

COUNTRY DOWN_AGE 16

Maya embodies the values of integrated education, tirelessly campaigning on issues of social justice within her school and wider community. She is a leading member of the Gay Straight Alliance at her college, speaking publicly on national television to promote equality. Maya also works at the forefront of the Amnesty International Group within her college, proactively driving new initiatives. At just 16, Maya has addressed a crowd of 20,000 people at an equal marriage rally in Belfast and successfully joined the UK’s Amnesty Youth Council. By speaking out against injustice and promoting a culture of inclusion, Maya inspires others with her drive to fight for human rights for all.

RIORDAN MCDAID

KINSHIP CARE

LONDONDERRY_AGE 13

As a Youth Champion at Kinship Care, Riordan supports young people who, like him, have experienced the loss of a parent. Riordan ensures everyone who comes through the Centre feels welcome, as well as organising activities and sharing his own personal story of losing a parent. He listens to others going through kinship care, reassuring and supporting them to understand the complexity of their family situation. Riordan has participated in countless programmes including awareness raising activities and personal development programmes.

“We congratulate all our new Diana Award Holders from Northern Ireland who are changemakers for their generation. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens.  For over twenty years The Diana Award has valued and invested in young people encouraging them to continue to make positive change in their communities and lives of others.”

 

Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive, The Diana Award 

“I am constantly amazed at the energy and enthusiasm of all the worthy young recipients of The Diana Award. Northern Ireland needs a new generation of change makers and this recognition will help motivate them and others to drive action in their communities.”

Sandara Kelso-Robb MBE, NI Ambassador for The Diana Award

WHAT IS THE NOMINATION PROCESS?

Award Holders have been put forward by adults who know the young people in a professional capacity and recognised their efforts as a positive contribution to society. Through a rigorous nomination process, these nominators had to demonstrate the nominee’s impact in five key areas: Vision, Social Impact, Inspiring Others, Youth Leadership, and Service Journey.

There are 13 Diana Award Judging Panels representing each UK region or nation and a further two panels representing countries outside of the UK. Each panel consist of four judges; Two Diana Award Holders, an education or youth work professional, and a business or government representative. The panels have an important main purpose: to determine which nominations from each UK region/nation will receive The Diana Award.

Nominations are judged using the Criteria Guide and Scoring Guide which have been created to measure quality of youth social action.

NORTHERN IRELAND ROLL OF HONOUR

 

MAYA BALLENTINE

SHIMNA INTEGRATED COLLEGE

COUNTRY DOWN_AGE 16

Maya embodies the values of integrated education, tirelessly campaigning on issues of social justice within her school and wider community. She is a leading member of the Gay Straight Alliance at her college, speaking publicly on national television to promote equality. Maya also works at the forefront of the Amnesty International Group within her college, proactively driving new initiatives. At just 16, Maya has addressed a crowd of 20,000 people at an equal marriage rally in Belfast and successfully joined the UK’s Amnesty Youth Council. By speaking out against injustice and promoting a culture of inclusion, Maya inspires others with her drive to fight for human rights for all.

REBEKAH DAVIDSON

NORTHERN IRELAND CHEST HEART AND STROKE

BELFAST_AGE 24

A passionate ambassador, fundraiser and supporter within the charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS), Rebekah raises awareness within her community and empowers NICHS service users. Rebekah volunteers her time to foster an inclusive environment and resilient support service, which in turn educates others, reduces isolation and increases confidence. In addition, Rebekah volunteers with Dementia Care and at her Church, encouraging others to be more involved in the community. In spite of her caring responsibilities for her family and balancing her university studies, Rebekah remains dedicated to putting the needs of others before herself.

MIA HARBINSON

CITY OF BELFAST TRAMPOLINE AND GYMNASTICS

BELFAST_AGE 17

Mia is a passionate advocate for disability sports, volunteering her time to support children with autism and other disabilities in autism friendly trampoline classes. On top of her school work, she has completed her coaching exams to encourage accessibility within sports further and train more volunteers. Through fundraising, organising sponsored ‘bounce-a-thons’ and forming the ‘Bounce Buddies’ group, Mia has broken down barriers and inspired belief in the children she works with. Mia’s dedication to volunteering has raised the expectations of not just their future in sport, but education and life in general.

CHLOE JAMISON

WOMENS AID ABCLN_

BALLYMENA_AGE 19

Chloe is an invaluable volunteer at the Womens Aid Homework Support Club, supporting young people with experiences of domestic violence. She prepares healthy snacks, helps them with their homework and participates in paired reading. Chloe has also undertaken training, gaining qualifications to further her skills and acting as a role model for the young people she supports. Chloe has raised funds towards educational resources for the club, and has taken part in educational video clips to raise awareness of emotional abuse, and the impact living with domestic violence has on children in the classroom.

SHANNON MCCAUL

INTEGRATED COLLEGE DUNGANNON_

COUNTY TYRONE_AGE 17

As Head Girl and Chair of the Anti-Bullying Ambassador Team, Shannon set out to ensure all students felt welcome and happy at her college. Shannon’s proactive and inclusive nature enables her to support all students, especially those more vulnerable, with special needs or lacking social skills. Shannon took a lead role in sourcing and furnishing a functional space for vulnerable young people in her college where they could go to feel safe. She is also an active member of the college’s Social Action Committee, promoting and fundraising for local and national charities. Shannon never fails to offer her support, encouraging her peers to do the same.

RIORDAN MCDAID

KINDSHIP CARE_

LONDONDERRY_AGE 13

As a Youth Champion at Kinship Care, Riordan supports young people who, like him, have experienced the loss of a parent. Riordan ensures everyone who comes through the Centre feels welcome, as well as organising activities and sharing his own personal story of losing a parent. He listens to others going through kinship care, reassuring and supporting them to understand the complexity of their family situation. Riordan has participated in countless programmes including awareness raising activities and personal development programmes. Riordan’s position as a Youth Champion has built up his self-esteem and resilience, which has been instrumental in encouraging other young people to talk about their experiences of loss.

TAYLOR PIETERSON

LONGSTONE SPECIAL SCHOOL_

DUNDONALD_AGE 15

Taylor is Head Boy, Anti-Bullying Ambassador and member of his school council, taking the lead in a variety of fundraising campaigns. Taylor drives forward initiatives including ‘Get Up and Go Green’ and ‘UNICEF Soccer Aid’, bringing together people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to learn about how best to protect the environment, as well as global education rights. Taylor has also been key in supporting his school to fundraise more than £40,000 to create a community garden and hub for the local area, to grow food, plants, keep fit and socialise. Taylor overcomes any obstacle that comes his way, enthusiastically engaging with all aspects of school.

CHELSEA SMITH

AUTISM NI_

BELFAST_AGE 16

As a young person with a diagnosis of ASD, Chelsea decided that more needed to be done to support girls in particular with this hidden disability. Therefore she initiated, designed and implemented a sensory sanctuary room within her school to support other students with ASD, improving their mental health and wellbeing. With Chelsea’s ideas and insight, she also reshaped the local Girls and Autism Friendship Club, providing girls with autism in the community a place to socialise in a supportive environment. Chelsea gives them the confidence to discuss their diagnosis and demonstrates that ASD is not a barrier to them achieving their goals.

NEW-BRIDGE ANTI-BULLYING AMBASSADORS

NEW-BRIDGE INTEGRATED COLLEGE_

BELFAST_AGES 14-18

New-Bridge Anti-Bullying Ambassadors regularly volunteer their time to support and educate their peers on the effects of bullying. They act as positive role models within their school community, promoting an atmosphere of kindness and tolerance to difference. The group runs a drop in service, offering advice to pupils or providing a safe space they can come to if they feel lonely. They also commit their time to planning and preparing for a variety of annual events, including fundraising activities, leading whole school assemblies and running anti-bullying week events.

WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE DIANA AWARD?

© 2016 The Diana Award. The Diana Award is a registered charity (1117288 / SC0141915) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales number 5739137.