Gallery: Kids Are Alright Presentation Evening

PUBLISHED: 13:07 31 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 June 2010

Dance Offensive in action

Dance Offensive in action

TEENAGER Michelle Ewart became homeless after her unruly behaviour drove her parents to despair and she was kicked out of the family home. But a remarkable and inspiring transformation has lead to her being named our Kid of the Year. Michelle, 19, from M

TEENAGER Michelle Ewart became homeless after her unruly behaviour drove her parents to despair and she was kicked out of the family home.

But a remarkable and inspiring transformation has lead to her being named our Kid of the Year.

Michelle, 19, from March received the accolade at an awards ceremony at Wisbech Fire Station on Monday night.

This was held to round off the inaugural year of the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard's award-winning Kids Are Alright campaign.

An audience of nominees, their families and friends were joined by guests including Julie Spence, the Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire; Graham Stagg, the Chief Fire Officer for Cambridgeshire; Jill Tuck, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council; Councillor Yvonne Lawrence, the Mayor of Wisbech, and Councillor Steve Garratt, portfolio holder for young people and leisure at Fenland District Council.

Mrs Spence said: "Only a very small amount of young people are causing problems but many adults don't seem to see it this way.

"It is necessary to educate adults about young people and break down barriers. I feel this campaign has done that.

"The campaign also shows that newspapers can be all right. This good work mustn't stop here and I'd like to see the campaign spread across Cambridgeshire."

The Chief Constable also paid tribute to many of those who had contributed to the campaign which she herself had inspired.

She singled out Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard journalist Adam Lazzari for the time and energy he had devoted to researching and publishing the individual entries and for helping to co-ordinate the campaign.

Winner Michelle lived in The Staithe hostel in Wisbech after her parents kicked her out.

She had mixed with the wrong crowd, gone off the rails and been in trouble with police for shop lifting.

Through working with the young people's career advice service Connexions, she turned her life around and has made up with her parents.

Michelle completed the Prince's Trust Programme, gained qualifications and is pursuing a career as a youth worker.

Michelle was chosen as the overall winner by a public vote conducted through the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard. She was awarded £150 of High Street shopping vouchers.

Runners-ups were Emily Hill, from Whittlesey, who has raised more than £2,200 for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Abbie Ross, from Friday Bridge, who spent six months volunteering in Kenya. Each received £50 worth of vouchers.

Every youngster that has featured in the campaign received a framed certificate.

Phoebe Nickalls and Siana Rawlings of Fenland Youth Council were MCs for the evening.

A drama group from Peterborough Regional College performed a show about misconceptions of teenagers and there was a performance from Dance Offensive.

Cllr Garratt said: "This campaign has been an absolutely fantastic success.

"If it had not been for the support of the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard then we would not be here congratulating these young people for the fantastic stuff they have done over the last year."

Editor John Elworthy said the campaign had helped the newspapers re-examine their own coverage of young people.

"Kids Are Alright has been a fundamental assault on society's perceptions of young people.

"We've championed a very different side to that often reported in the media, reflecting not just a positive side but covering stories of individual courage, stamina, fortitude, ingenuity and a steely eyed vision for the task in hand.

"It's been an encouraging experience and one that has won over many of those cynics who expressed to me the unlikelihood of sustaining this campaign over a prolonged period.

"Well sorry cynics, you were wrong. The evidence is here tonight."

Mr Elworthy read out a 'roll call' of the 41 individuals and teams who had featured in the Kids Are Alright campaign. Many were there to receive commemorative certificates for their achievements.

The Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard would like to thank the Cambridgeshire Criminal Justice Board, Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Fenland Youth Council, Connexions and graphic design student Beth Moore for all of the hard work they have put into the Kids Are Alright campaign.

The campaign will be re-launched later in the year.

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