Children in care are STARS for the night

Nigel Richardson, Cllr Lucinda Yeadon (left) and Children Commissioner Anne Longfield (right) are joined by Ronnie the Rhino and Stars award winners

Nigel Richardson, Cllr Lucinda Yeadon (left) and Children Commissioner Anne Longfield (right) are joined by Ronnie the Rhino and Stars award winners

Children in care from across Leeds have been treated like stars for the night at a prom style awards ceremony.

The STARS awards for Looked After Children have been organised by Leeds City Council to celebrate and recognise the many achievements of children and young people in care.

In order to make sure all children and young people got the chance to attend an event which was suitable for their age, two were held – a party for younger children and a more sophisticated ‘prom’ style event for young people.

To make the events extra special and relevant, young people who themselves are either in care, or recent care leavers, were closely involved in planning and organising both parties. The young people were involved right from the start decided on all aspects of the awards, including the type of ceremony, food, entertainment, decorations and prizes.

All children and young people who are being looked after by Leeds City Council, either in foster care, or residential homes were invited to attend and were able to walk down the red carpet, enjoy live entertainment and celebrate their own and each other’s successes.

This is the third year the STARS awards have been held and this year over 310 nominations were received and over 400 guests attended the ceremonies held last week.

With nominations received from a wide variety of people who work with or look after the children including carers, social workers, teachers, nurses and personal advisors.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for children and families said:

We owe it to the children and young people we look after to give them the recognition for their successes and achievements that they deserve.

As part of our pledge to be a child friendly city we want to give young people a voice, and this is great example of how it works in practice. The young people who helped to organise these events did a wonderful job and should be very proud.

The STARS awards are a great opportunity for the young people to celebrate each other’s achievements as well as giving them a great excuse to have fun and party!

The young people on the planning panel decided they wanted to award prizes which were specially selected for each winner, the prizes included a Arsenal football shirt, a One direction goodie bag, Leeds United tickets and football boots and a Lego set.

The awards were split into five categories for each age group: creativity; sports; education; community involvement and; personal development.

The winners were picked for a variety of reasons including a young man who was nominated for given an outstanding performance in a school production. The winner of the Young People’s creativity award was commended for his prolonged commitment to the production and for bringing “his own creative flair to the role and brought a famous character to life in a show-stopping performance”.

The 14 year old winner of the sports award has put in a lot of dedication to ice staking, getting up at 5am three days a week to attend training. Entering competitions and shows she is well on her way to achieving her quest to become an ice dancer.

The winner of the young people’s education award was nominated by two people, who commented that the young person has come a long way despite facing a lot of challenges including being a young carer. The winner has worked extremely hard in school and college and has now been offered a place at university and is currently volunteering for the youth offending service

The winner of the community involvement award for young people is the registered carer for her nan, devoting all her time to caring for her, including doing her shopping, cooking meals, administering medicines and attending all hospital appointments. She visits her nan at home every day and sleeps over on a weekend. The winner also decorated her nan’s flat and always ensures her nan’s bills are paid on time.

The winner of the young person’s personal development award has adjusted to different ways of living, and put in a phenomenal effort to achieve in a range of areas. He has participated in an enterprise project and mechanic course and his tutors commented that his behaviour was outstanding. He has also participated in a Prince’s Trust programme including playing cricket at Lords and was one of the first young people in the country to complete his National Citizenship Award. He was also nominated for helping his elderly neighbours and local children’s charity. He is also a good neighbour and supports his elderly neighbours, by doing odd jobs.

The winner of the children’s creativity award was nominated for her dedication to music. She started playing the cello in year 4, and joined the school orchestra and participates in recorder ensemble. She supports other children in the group and practices every day.

Her music teacher says “I would love to have a lot more children and adults showing her kindness and giving”.

The four year old winner of the children’s sports category has achieved and excelled in his ability to learn how to swim and climb and overcoming his fears of drowning and heights.

The winner of the children’s education category had heart surgery about a year ago and has made amazing progress this academic year with her reading and writing. Her foster carers, her school and her social worker are all very proud of her.

The winner of the community award for children is an active and enthusiastic member of the school council and has used this position to suggest improvements for the school from a pupil’s point of view. He is also a peer mediator, who talks through problems children might be having with their friendships and has shown that he is committed and dedicated to helping others.

The winner of the children’s personal development award has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and received intensive treatment which he has recently completed. He has handled this remarkably well and has settled in his placement and in his new school, where he is in reception. He is kind and caring and he has good peer relationships and good social skills.

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