Source: Million Minutes
A young volunteer ship visitor and a group of urban gardeners were just two of the winners at this year's Celebrating Young People Awards, which were announced at a glittering ceremony in Central London on 3 July. The awards - now in their fourth year - were organised by Million Minutes. Hundreds of young people were nominated in six categories, each celebrating a different aspect of Catholic Social Teaching lived out in action. Danny Curtin, the CEO of Million Minutes said the judging panels were "very impressed by all the young people nominated".
Cardinal Vincent Nichols presented the Pope Francis Award to 24-year-old Hannah Forrest who is a volunteer ship visitor for Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) in Plymouth. She regularly visits the ships in port and her work has been vital to the seafarers who come across the world and arrive isolated and fatigued. She has also raised awareness of seafarers in her parish, recruiting other ship visitors and ensuring that many more seafarers receive a welcome. Cardinal Nichols congratulated her, and the other young people present, telling them that he was so proud, "to see and sense the vitality of the faith of our Church embodied in so many of the young people gathered tonight". He congratulated them for having "so much generosity and verve for life".
Danny and Eva Mizen, whose family has worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation since Jimmy Mizen was murdered in 2008, presented the Jimmy Mizen Award for solidarity and peace. Award recipient Shanea Oldham from St Bonaventure's School, Forest Gate, has addressed youth safety in Newham. Ellie Heyes from St John Rigby Sixth Form College, Lancashire, supports socially-isolated young people while walking the streets with her local church. Amelia Prajsnar and Lewis Mitchell from St Mary Queen of Martyrs Voluntary Catholic Academy make up the International Pupil Council who are working on and delivering projects linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
A group of 12-year-olds from St John Vianney Special Education Needs School in Manchester were awarded the Cardinal Hume Award for 'living out the option for the poor'. The group supports local charities by donating food, clothing, toiletries and money (giving up their lunch breaks in the process!) Their teacher said: "Being recognised will mean the world to them as they do not get much outside recognition for all their hard work. They face difficulties daily, often being negatively judged. But these are some of the kindest and spiritually amazing children I have worked with. They are so kind and caring and want to help others despite their own circumstances. It would make a huge difference in their lives."
The Barbara Ward Award, caring for creation, saw the biggest increase in nominations since the last awards in 2017. Recipients included: St John Bosco College Young Gardeners from Battersea, who established a gardening club on an old football pitch at the back of school; Annalia Rathoor, from Blessed Robert Widermerpool Catholic Academy in Nottingham, who leads campaigns on litter picking, plastic-bans and animal-safety campaigns, and through this, has helped her school renew its Green Flag Award; and Tom Allan from St Mary's School, Menston, who established a Global Warriors Group and who now sits on the Diocesan Leeds Justice and Peace Commission.
The awards ceremony enjoyed music from St Philomena's Catholic High School for Girls, La Retraite and St Thomas the Apostle. Danny Curtin reflected that, "Million Minutes is all about giving a voice to the young people who get overlooked. We're delighted to have held these awards for the fourth year to recognise young people from across England and Wales. We want to celebrate all that they are and all that they give to our world."
The Celebrating Young People Awards was launched in 2015, inviting nominations for six award categories based on Catholic Social Teaching: promoting dignity of the human person, community and participation, the dignity of workers, solidarity and peace, the option for the poor, and the care of creation. There is also an award for an inspiring adult youth worker and the overall youth Award, the Pope Francis Award, selected and presented by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
The initiative is run by Million Minutes, a charity founded in 2011. It raises money and supports youth action and advocacy activities that give voice and support to young people to transform their lives and their world. It supports young people making a difference through participation in society, assuming responsibility and developing as leaders. It works alongside other organisations, including For Jimmy, Cardinal Hume Centre, and the Young Christian Workers. Its champions include TV chef Delia Smith, Abbot Christopher Jamison OSB and Margaret Mizen OBE.
Full list of award recipients and highly commended nominees can be found at: millionminutes.org/awards
The Million Minutes of Change resources pack introduces guiding principles, enabling young people to explore concerns and connect to a concrete social action plan. See: millionminutes.org/change
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