Hundreds of students from South Yorkshire have been honoured at an awards event in Sheffield, under the Force’s Inspiring Youth Project.

Students and guests gathered at Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel on Friday, where they were presented with their rewards by Chief Constable Steven Watson and distinguished guests.

Ipanda Kalyata and Norbert Boratyn were Inspiring Youth level one overall winners. Both students were presented with individual awards and a trophy to take back to All Saints Catholic School in Sheffield.

Proud mum Estella Kalyata said: “Ipanda has done extremely well and it’s a pleasant surprise for her to win this award. She worked very hard.  As soon as Ipanda knew about the programme, she never stopped talking about it. She wanted to help others and was confident Inspiring Youth would improve her study skills and help her to do this.

“As part of the scheme, Ipanda collected clothes to distribute to less privileged children in Zambia and regularly shops for an elderly neighbour, who she also chats to. She’s a good girl and I’m delighted for her.”

Laura May, of the All Saints Catholic High School explained: “We had 40 students sign up to participate in the programme last year and have just signed up 90 students for the next round. The programme is very beneficial to students as they can gain many different skills including independence, confidence and an understanding of the world of work. We, as a school, are extremely proud of the effort and engagement our students have put into this programme and to come away with two winners is phenomenal.”

Jennifer Okerenta from Hinde House School in Sheffield was the level two overall winner and received an individual award.

Associate Headteacher at Hinde House School, Tammy Noone enthused: “Jennifer is a hardworking, well-motivated student who represents the very best of Hinde House. We are delighted that her achievements have been deservedly recognized by South Yorkshire Police and we are very proud of all her accomplishments.”

Run by volunteers, including serving and retired officers, the Inspiring Youth Project is in its 13th year, and has seen teenagers work on projects to develop their education, improve self-esteem and build life skills. This year’s cohort is no exception and its success has been welcomed.

Founding member and project Manager, South Yorkshire Police Special Constable, Bobby Dev said:

“A wonderful evening was had by all. The enthusiasm of the youngsters who undertook this year’s project and the pride of their parents was almost tangible. This group of students has gone above and beyond expectations, bringing benefits to their communities via the voluntary work they have undertaken. These youngsters have also improved their personal standing, by tapping into the provision provided by their mentors and their fellow project volunteers. It’s been a very productive year and we are looking forward to many more like this one.

“Students can undertake the scheme on two levels and become ambassadors in their community whilst completing the programme, which can take up to 24 months to complete both levels. School staff support youngsters, and a dedicated police mentor visits the schools several times throughout the programme to help students with their project work.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner attended the event and said: “The Inspiring Youth Project works with hundreds of young people across many Sheffield schools. They learn valuable life skills that will serve them well for further study and employment.  The event for award winners was a glittering occasion well deserved by all the winners.”

The unique award, only run in South Yorkshire, has been recognised by The Home Office and Department for Education. The project has also received royal assent from the Duke of York’s Community Initiative award.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: “The latest event was a very special celebration of the dedication and devotion of a talented group of young people, that has given up its time to help the people of South Yorkshire. Not only this, but this year’s cohort has developed a skills set that will improve in  the near and distant future. These students will have developed positive life habits in the last year or two, which will stand them in very good stead should they wish to undertake further education, enter into employment or simply communicate in a social setting.”

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