Our theme for Community Heroes in the Spotlight this month is International Youth Day, which is on 12th August. This is a day to bring youth issues to attention and to celebrate the potential of young people as partners in society.
Our winners are The Chatterboxes (part of the brilliant YMCA Bournemouth), a youth action group led by young people aged 11-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
The group meets three times a week, in person and online and offers activities, education, companionship and practical support to all members. Group sessions cover topics such as friendship, sexual health, online safety, politics and sports and yoga.
As well as supporting their own members, The Chatterboxes show their worth as partners in society through their work in schools and with local businesses. Over the past year, they have delivered 20 workshops which have supported 75 professionals and 162 young people.
Workshops and training, all written and delivered by Chatterboxes’ Young Leaders, have included how to communicate with young people, disability awareness, being LGBTQ+ and disabled, neurodiversity* and tokenism**.
One Young Leader said:
“For me it’s really important to be a young leader as the world needs more people standing up for young people with SEND. I wanted to help people.”
Chatterboxes are also keen to help their communities. They have volunteered at a number of local events, such as Wimborne Family Fest, Arts by the Sea, Bournemouth and Bourne Free. Alongside this have been litter picks at Boscombe Beach and conservation work in Studland and on Brownsea Island.
Future events will be keeping The Chatterboxes just as busy as they are now. Their school focussed work will be part of the ‘Autism in Schools’ programme from NHS England. Young Leaders will support school age children who have had a diagnosis of Autism and are unsure what this means for them. They’ll devise and lead interactive workshops, share personal stories and have Q&A sessions with the pupils.
We think you’ll agree this group sums up how young people can support each other, their local communities and health and other professionals and are worthy winners of our August Community Heroes in the Spotlight title.
* Neurodiversity is the umbrella term used for different thinking styles, which affect how people communicate and deal with the world around them. Examples of neurodiversity are autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia.
** Tokenism describes making a small effort to be inclusive. For example, recruiting people with a disability to look like an organisation is inclusive, but without policies or practice to back this up.