We’re shining a spotlight on inspirational young people

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What is your impression of the youth of today? Is it of monosyllabic sullenness, of groups of bored-looking kids in hoodies congregating in town centres and getting into trouble?

That may be the populist view, but it unfairly generalises and fails to take into account the fact that many young people make a fantastic contribution to their local community and to society as a whole.

So today we are proud to launch the second News Youth Awards as a way of rewarding achievement and shining a spotlight on the inspirational.

We believe there are plenty of young people out there who set a fine example to others and who deserve to be recognised for their efforts.

They might be champion charity fundraisers, doing very well at school or a good friend to someone in need. Or they may be living life in the face of adversity.

Last year’s winner of Inspiration of the Year and Overall Star, Sam Merrick from Denmead, was just the kind of unsung little hero we were looking for.

Despite battling a range of health problems after being born prematurely, the six-year-old is the inspiration behind Sam’s Haven, a charity set up by his relatives to provide short breaks for families of sick children.

Last year £33,000 was raised, allowing 17 families to have much-needed respite from hospital visits by staying in a caravan at Pagham in West Sussex.

As his mum, Louise, explains on pages 8 and 9, winning the awards boosted Sam’s confidence and made him feel so proud.

Now we want to find others like Sam who can be honoured at our Youth Awards.

All you have to do is nominate a young person aged 17 or under you believe deserves to be recognised and pick one or more suitable categories. And of course we would like to hear their heartwarming stories.

We look forward to seeing all those shortlisted at the Kings Theatre in Southsea on Sunday June 14 and to making it a real day to remember for them and their families.