Giving Nation TV Challenge Star Wins London Peace Award
On Thursday 18th September, 14 year old Latyah McCarthy was presented the London Young Persons Peace Award by Sir Iain Blair ,Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Home Secretary the Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP at the 2008 London Peace Awards annual awards ceremony.
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14 year old Latyah starred in the Citizenship Foundation's Giving Nation TV Challenge broadcast in 2007 on the Community Channel. Aged just 12 at the time with the support of the Giving Nation Challenge, Latyah and school friends from Phoenix High School in Shepherds Bush, West London set up a campaign to provide alternatives to gang crime for young people in Hammersmith.
The Giving Nation Challenge provides free teaching materials and grants of up to £450 to support young people’s engagement in charity and community issues through social enterprise projects. With a grant of £250, Latyah and her school took part in the Giving Nation TV Challenge documentary taking on the challenge of coming up with a business idea that would benefit a local community cause.
As a response to the rising number of deaths of teenagers in London to gun and knife crime -and the negative reputation that young people often receive as a result - Latyah and friends decided to organise Open Mic Entertainment nights showcasing the talents of local young people and giving them an alternative to getting involved in gang crime. Speaking about the project Latyah explained: “We want to get young people off the streets, performing music and taking part in some thing positive instead of gang crime. Gang crime is a big issue in our area and exists because there of a lack of community activities and opportunities for young people in Hammersmith. We believe that young people need positive ways of expressing themselves, and getting involved with and supporting their community. The Open Mic night we organised provided the perfect opportunity!”
On Wednesday 14th March 2007 just two weeks into setting up her project, 16 year old Kodjo Yenga, a local teen who had been involved locally and nationally in campaigning against gun and knife crime, died from a single knife wound to the heart. His death shocked and devastated Latyah and young people in White City and made her even more determined to set up her Open Mic project as a tribute to Kodjo and his family, to run an event in his honour, some thing his family could be proud of.
In 2007 Latyah and friends’ determination to make a difference in their local community wowed the judges of the Giving Nation TV Challenge and in September 2008 the panel of Peace Awards judges.
On presenting the award to Latyah, Councillor Nilgun Canver for Haringey commented:“The Young Persons Peace Award goes to a student who has made the most outstanding contribution to their school or community. Latyah McCarthy is only 14 years old and deserves this award for her determination, commitment, vision and passion.”
Andy Thornton, Director of Participation and Social Action at the Citizenship Foundation commented:
“We are immensely proud to see Latyah’s work recognised by the London Peace Award. The Giving Nation Challenge aims to unlock the potential of young people to take action to change their communities. Latyah is the perfect example of this. The Giving Nation Challenge is part of a range of programmes run by Giving Nation that support young people to tap into the potential they have to make a difference through community, charity and campaigning action.”
When presented with the £500 award Latyah explained:
“I was very excited and shaking when they called out my name. It feels great to win the award which I am going to put towards organising more Open Mic nights and projects to support young people in Hammersmith. For me the young person’s award is recognition for how serious we are as young people about living in peace and clear proof that you can take action and make a difference no matter how old you are.”
Giving Nation (G-Nation) supports and promotes young people’s learning and engagement in charitable activity, volunteering and campaigning through the Giving Nation Challenge social enterprise project for secondary schools, free school resources, an online awards programme and a web community at www.g-nation.co.uk The Giving Nation Challenge is funded by the Cabinet Office
Latyah McCarthy also received the Carl Bertelsmann prize on behalf of the Citizenship Foundation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel a year ago, in September 2007. The work of Dolly Movementz, supported by the Giving Nation Challenge, was a significant factor in the Citizenship Foundation being awarded the international prize.
The London Peace Awards celebrate and recognise individuals and organisations who through various initiatives and projects have positively contributed to the peace and safety of London.