HUNDREDS of teenagers are celebrating after graduating from a four-week social action scheme.
A total of 265 young people from Portsmouth and Havant took part in this summer’s National Citizen Service (NCS) scheme over the last four weeks leading to last night’s ‘graduation ceremony’ at the Kings Theatre in Southsea to celebrate the teenagers’ achievements.
The 20 groups spent a week in Swanage and a week at Fort Purbrook doing team-building exercises before organising a community action project, which they had to pitch to Portsmouth businesses before then carrying out.
Lauren Hogg, 17, from Waterlooville was part of a group that slept rough in Fratton Park for a night as they set out to raise funds for homeless charity Centrepoint.
She said: ‘This whole experience has been absolutely life-changing.
‘It’s been challenging at times but looking back, it was really worth it.
Bethanie Gale, 16, from Buckland, was part of a group that helped refurbish parts of Buckland Community Centre in Malins Road.
She said: ‘It was hard work but we got there in the end.
‘However, the whole NCS experience itself was better than I expected.
‘I’ve made long-lasting friendships and have taken on really exciting challenges.
‘I really want to do it next year.’
Clare Darlow, NCS social action officer at Pompey in the Community said: ‘It is a really transformative process for the kids and we’ve had a very strong batch this summer.
‘It is a hugely important project and we have had so many youngsters come and tell us all about how good the four weeks have been and what a difference it made to their summer.
‘I think it also helps them in terms of the transition as they head into college as the programme has all been about working together and bonding with new people, which I’m sure will help them out.’
James Shannon, who led the NCS programme in Portsmouth said: ‘We have had some incredible weeks working with this group of youngsters.
‘The fact that they managed to have everything in place for their community project in just five days is really awe-inspiring.
‘All of them have brought a real energy to the four weeks and it’s been a pleasure to see them grow and make a difference.’