An inspirational teenager from Canterbury has won a national award for raising awareness of bullying and mental health challenges among young people.
Megan Parker, 16, was honoured at The Children and Young People Now Awards for her work with Headstart Kent, which supports schools to help young people to cope better with difficult situations in their lives.
As well as caring for six siblings, some who have special educational needs, for the last 18 months Megan has worked tirelessly to develop resources and training for schools to be more aware of how to deal with mental health challenges among pupils.
Every month the Canterbury Academy student takes part in a Kent wide anti-bullying campaign. She has grown in confidence, co-hosting a wellbeing event for more than 200 young people and mental health professionals in March.
HeadStart Kent is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and delivered by Kent County Council. As a key member, Megan is involved in decision making, participating in interview panels, helping to commission services for young people and to assess grants and services. She even finds time to be part of the SENsational choir, Canterbury’s only choir for disabled children and their siblings.
Megan won the Children’s Achievement Award at The Children and Young People Now Awards held at the Hurlingham Club in London on Thursday (November 28).
The award recognises young people who have developed personally and who have made a positive contribution to their community through activities such as volunteering or campaigning.
Megan said: “This award means so much to me, to know the work I’ve done isn’t invisible, and that I have really helped people through what I’ve worked on with other people. I never started this work for an award, but to have it is both overwhelming and validating, and it’ll probably mean more than I can say for a very long time.”
David Weiss, Head of Headstart Kent, added: “We are extremely grateful to Megan for all her hard work. Although very busy as a young carer, she has continued to thrive academically, receiving her English Literature GCSE a year early and getting an ‘A’ grade.
“Despite her commitments, Megan has dedicated much of her free time to helping others. She is truly a remarkable young person and we are very proud of her.”
For more information about HeadStart Kent, visit www.HeadStartKent.org.uk.
For further information contact David Gazet at Kent County Council Communications Office on 03000 422589 or email David.Gazet@kent.gov.uk
Notes for journalists
- The National Lottery Community Fund has awarded Kent County Council £9.98 million to support young people’s emotional wellbeing and resilience.
- HeadStart Kent is part of Children, Young People and Education Services and aims to help young people cope better when faced with difficult circumstances in their lives, preventing them from experiencing common mental health problems.
- HeadStart Kent aims to make changes through schools, families and within communities and has been designed with young people at its heart.
- The HeadStart Kent Mission Statement was developed by young people and their families and is as follows: “By 2020 Kent young people and their families will have improved resilience, by developing their knowledge and lifelong skills to maximise their own and their peers’ emotional health and wellbeing; so to navigate their way to support when needed in ways which work for them.”