A teenager who completely turned his life around, leaving behind the path of drugs and crime, is one of three Thanet nominees who received honours at the annual Spirit of Try Angle awards last week.
Twenty-four finalists from across Kent and their guests were joined at the Ashford International Hotel ceremony by Sir Roger Gale, President of the Try Angle Foundation, Bill Butler who founded the awards in 1994, KCC Chairman David Brazier, and Roger Gough, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education.
A brave decision
Kristen Love, 16, received an award for personal development after taking the decision to turn his back on drugs.
The Margate teenager was truanting on a daily basis, running away from home and taking drugs after falling in with a group involved in crime.
The nomination for Kristen said: “Although he had support from his family and friends Kristen felt he could not say no or stand up to the continuous peer pressure from the group. He really struggled to escape this lifestyle.
“Literally overnight, he switched. Kristen made a decision not to continue on this downward slope anymore and he started to engage in the services offered to him, especially, Sam and Dominika from School and Early Help Teams.”
Kristen no longer takes drugs, his school attendance in the last term increased to over 90% and he now has a place at Canterbury College studying Level 1 Mechanical Engineering. The teen will be resitting Maths and English in December to improve his grades.
The nomination form says: “Kristen has acknowledged that he was going down the wrong path and made many wrong choices. He knows he was heading to being a full time gang member, vulnerable to grooming and the risk of offending high which would have eventually led to prison.
“Knowing the impact his past had on himself and his family, he now shows maturity and has worked hard to have a better life.”
Krsten’s mum, Elaine, said: “I would like to thank all of the early help intervention team, especially Dominka Richards who travelled most mornings to get Kristen to school. This was a hard time for all of us but they were there 24/7. Sam Webb from Hartsdown School was also my rock.
“I couldn’t have got through this without my friends and family. I advise anyone to take help offered if your child is going through a difficult time of confusion and peer pressure, and stick with it. They need your help not criticism, as I learnt. I’m so proud of my son, the turnaround was amazing. He’s 16 and cheeky but he’s a good lad and doing really well.”
Award for music
Thanet youngster Elijah Akinfenwa received an award for personal achievement in music.
The 18-year-old was nominated by Matt Smyth from Pie Factory Music for his outstanding commitment to working on music projects and collaborating with other musicians to create original work.
Elijah has written and produced his own album without any formal music training, making use of the studio out of hours. His album is called Younified and other works can be seen on Youtube under the name Elijah Femi.
In his nomination Matt said: “As well as making his own music Elijah is super supportive of other young people always listening, offering advice and showing them how to use the studio. He is also now a voice of young people in Thanet working with Voicebox – to get young people to influence, and work up solutions in their home town.”
An award for personal achievement is sports went to Broadstairs Cricket Club’s under 13s team.
The youngsters took part in The Nat West under 13 National Club Championships, scooping the title for Kent.
The club then took part in a tense 12 match journey to win the Nat West Under 13 National Club Champions, the first Kent team to ever hold the title.
Guest of honour at the ceremony was winter Paralympic Gold Medallist Charlotte Evans, who said the nominees were “truly inspirational and deserving finalists”.