May 25 2017

Gabrielle and Matthew accept their awards from Nil By Mouth Engagement Officer Emma Alexander

The efforts of three Kilmarnock high school pupils to build bridges between different religious communities has been recognised by Nil by Mouth.

Gabrielle Henderson and Jamie Murray from St Joseph’s Academy and Matthew McHolland from Grange Academy  have been working with anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth and the Mark Scott Leadership for Life Programme on a peer education programme which has seen them plan and deliver anti-sectarian workshops in primary schools across East Ayrshire.

The trio completed more than 300 hours of volunteering which sought to build on their own leadership skills as well as add benefit to their local community.  The group devised their own workshops focusing on how young people can challenge prejudice and delivered them to pupils at a number of primary schools including Dunlop PS, Lainshaw PS and St Andrew’s PS.

Nil by Mouth staff where so impressed with their efforts that they arranged for the pupils to participate in the nationwide Saltire Awards programme which formally recognises the commitment and contribution of youth volunteering to voluntary organisations. The awards enable young volunteers to record the skills, experience and learning gained through successful volunteering placements provided by local and national voluntary agencies.

This week the pupils were presented with Saltire Awards, signed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, in recognition of the hundreds of hours of volunteering time they had given to the project.

Nil by Mouth Engagement Officer Emma Alexander said:
‘We are delighted to have been able to work with Gabrielle, Mathew and Jamie to help them achieve their Saltire Awards. Nil by Mouth was set up by Glasgow teenager Cara Henderson in response to the brutal sectarian murder of her friend Mark Scott and we have always sought to harness the power of young people to change the world. The pupils have really worked hard on their project and showed real leadership and imagination throughout. We are very impressed with the peer education programme they created to work in local primary schools. These sessions were very well received and the pupils have shown that by working together people can create positive change.’