Leicester-based charity Wishes 4 Kids has been presented with a cheque as part of the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative. YPI is a charitable foundation that works with school children to identify local grass roots charities. Founded in Canada, the programme is now rolling out across the UK with chosen charities each being awarded £3,000.
The Year 9 students researched local charities and chose one to champion as a tutor group. They canvassed support from fellow students and gave presentations, both to their year group and also to the senior management team.
Nominated charities included Lakelands Hospice, Beanfield Special Needs group, women's shelters, drug rehabilitation charities and the East Park homeless shelter in Northampton. Vice Principal Mr Strickland revealed the chosen charity at the end of a presentation session in the Weston Theatre when each of the tutor groups gave an overview of their charity and presented campaign videos.
The winning tutor group was 9N who had supported Wishes 4 Kids. It provides unforgettable experiences for children from birth to 18 who have life-limiting illnesses, have suffered abuse or life- changing trauma or who are HIV positive. It costs between £220,000 to £250,000 a year to run the charity that operates with just two staff and voluntary help.
Mr Russell Brickett, who founded the charity in 2002, accepted the cheque from members of 9N. He told the students: ‘You will have made a difference to over 300 children. All I can say, from the bottom of our hearts at the charity, is our most sincere thanks to you all.’
Afterwards he said: ‘We cover Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire and as far as Rutland, so it is a massive area. We ask the children we work with to make three wishes and it is our challenge to grant one of those. We are just approaching 3000 wishes fulfilled. The most popular by far is a trip to Disneyland Paris or meeting sports personalities or pop stars like JLS. We have had a number of children who wanted to meet the Pope. It never ceases to amaze me just how accommodating people are. For the past four years we have averaged a wish a day. You make that personal bond with each child so I can tell you stories about every one of the children we help, it is a very personal charity. It is the best job in the world.’
Elie Hart, Midlands co-ordinator for Youth and Philanthropy Initiative said: ‘YPI is an incredible project that started in Canada and has been operating in London since 2007. YPI is funded by a mixture of philanthropists and government funding and has expanded into the Midlands for the first time this year thanks to a Government grant. The project lasts for ten sessions and it is run by the teachers so it is incredibly important to have schools like Brooke Weston on board.
‘The onus is on the students doing their research, finding their charity, finding their passion and starting to understand what philanthropy is about. Looking at that sea of Year 9 faces there was obviously a lot of enthusiasm for the work, a lot of passion behind it, an incredible amount of research and it is also fabulous to meet so many teachers who are completely behind the project as well.’
YPI programme manager Kerri Hall said: ‘The big idea is to create a greater culture of giving in the UK and to let the students lead their own discovery in a structured programme like YPI. At this formative time in their development they actually realise that they can have a really positive impact on people who are less fortunate than they are.’