Helpful teenagers act as role models to us all

WELL DONE Teenagers receive their awards at Waterlooville Fire Station with group manager Ian Gray, left, and Havant station manager David Hodge. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (122421-1)
WELL DONE Teenagers receive their awards at Waterlooville Fire Station with group manager Ian Gray, left, and Havant station manager David Hodge. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122421-1)
Fellow student Bethany Toon, 17, with Bruce Wetherill, 25, at St Vincent College, Gosport  Picture: Neil Marshall (171028-16)

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THEY are the future of our communities.

And, judging by these teenagers’ kind-hearted efforts, we will certainly be in good hands.

Whether it be picking up litter from Hayling beach, planting flowers at Warblington Cemetery, or helping residents in a retirement home, these young people have been an example to all.

There were beaming smiles when they received Positive Role Model awards at Waterlooville fire station.

Eighteen Year 10 pupils from schools across Havant and Waterlooville took part in the 12-week scheme, which involved them taking part in a variety of team-building activities to show them how to become a good citizen.

Dozens of students were put forward by schools and this was whittled down to 18 through an interview process with local firefighters and police officers.

Ten people, a mixture of police staff and firefighters, acted as mentors for the young people over the three months, with weekly sessions every Tuesday evening.

Among the tasks was visiting Connors Keep, a retirement complex in Wecock Farm, and helping the elderly with their gardening.

Students learned about arson awareness at Havant fire station and heard about the dangers of chip pan fires.

And they learned about the negative effects of anti-social behaviour, graffiti and litter.

In one session they took part in a mock arrest at Havant police station to learn for themselves how crimes are punished.

To reward their efforts, the teenagers were taken bowling and go-karting.

This was the third year of the scheme, which is run by Hampshire Police, Hampshire Fire and Rescue and Havant Borough Council.

David Hodge, station commander at Havant fire station, said: ‘The 18 that we had all did an exceptional job.

‘There was 100 per cent attendance.

‘It’s the best year we have run.

‘One evening we went to Warblington Cemetery and planted some gardens and they also did some weeding around the church.

‘It’s not the usual place they would go, but they said it was nice to show some respect and give back to the community.’

Havant crew manager Lacey Plumbley added: ‘It was brilliant.

‘From week one to week 12 you could see a massive change – their confidence was sky high.

‘They made a new group of friends.

‘There were 18 students from different schools all interacting.’

The idea is that the young people can go now back into their schools and act as role models to their peers.

The scheme will be run again next year, with two of the students staying on to act as mentors for the new group.