Impressive young people from across Lancaster are taking centre stage

PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 October 2019

Young people from Lancaster taking part in the Lancashire Youth Challenge

Young people from Lancaster taking part in the Lancashire Youth Challenge

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Lancaster may be an old city but its young generation is determined to make a difference.

Empire to Exit performed by The Dukes Young Company (c) Darren AndrewsEmpire to Exit performed by The Dukes Young Company (c) Darren Andrews

From facing up to some of life's difficult challenges to expressing themselves through the arts, young people around the city are making their mark.

And one of the Lancaster-based organisations leading the way has recently seen 16 of its young members complete a 50-mile walk along Hadrian's Wall. Lancashire Youth Challenge, a registered charity since 2015, enables young people to build confidence and resilience by taking part in a year-round programme of physical, creative and cultural activities and projects.

LYC also provides the opportunity for young people to take part in a Big Annual Challenge and this summer it was walking from Newcastle to Carlisle in three and a half days. Chief executive, Guy Christiansen, described the experience for the teenagers as life enhancing and for some, life changing. Fifteen-year-old Ross Curwen said: 'The best thing about the challenge was being outdoors and seeing the views and the mountains. I'm glad I completed it because I met new people and now I feel like I can achieve anything.'

Previous LYC challenges include canoeing the Caledonian Canal, the Three Great Lakes Challenge, climbing the National Three Peaks, a Lancaster to Edinburgh cycle ride, the Yorkshire Three Peaks and cycling from the Tower of London to the Eiffel Tower.

Ashton memorial in Lancaster's Williamson ParkAshton memorial in Lancaster's Williamson Park

This year has seen the beginning of a new chapter with the appointment of Guy as chief executive and Sam Duckles as youth support worker. The charity has also received a £120,000 boost from the National Lottery Community Fund to launch a three-year programme entitled Our Place In The World.

'LYC's aim is to deliver a holistic programme of physical activities, cultural education and creative arts projects to enable the transformation of young people into positive, responsible and successful individuals and we aspire to extend our activities to Preston and possibly the Fylde coast,' Guy said.

The idea for LYC was formed while Guy was working as creative learning director at Lancaster's Dukes theatre.

And The Dukes continues to be a hub of self-improvement for young people, winning two North West Cultural Education Awards along the way.

Lancaster CastleLancaster Castle

The Dukes flagship Young Company even took Brexit as a focus for their annual production earlier this year - Empire To Exit. It marked the 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria in 1819 and Britain's planned exit from Europe. The devised finale presented the cast's own response to the current political and social climate.

The theatre offers opportunities to young people all year round, including its Young Ambassadors scheme, giving them the chance to work behind the scenes and support some of the younger children at the youth theatre while achieving their own Arts Award accreditation.

The Dukes communities and participation manager, Nicola Markham, said: 'We believe creative and cultural activities are a vital part of children and young people's learning and development, giving them invaluable opportunities for confidence building, career and talent development that aren't always available elsewhere.'

But one Lancaster teenager who has proved you don't have to be part of a group to make a difference is Cameron Redpath. His campaigns for improved access and facilities for disabled people have even received praise from the Duke of Lancaster herself, the Queen.

Former Prime Minister, Theresa May and Morecambe-born Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houston have also recognised Cameron's good work in the community.

'Getting this recognition was a real shock but an honour because I knew I was doing something right,' said Cameron. 'It is great to be recognised for the work I do to help the community and will continue to do so for years to come.'

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 2002, Cameron, who turns 18 this month, has successfully achieved more dropped kerbs in the area close to his home and adaptations to the city's bus station. The former Lancaster and Morecambe College student is a disabilities officer for Young Labour and is currently campaigning for better access on public transport and an accessible bus shelter near his home. He's also working with local schools to ensure more disabled people have access to mainstream education and has been appointed a governor at his former school, Central Lancaster High. Viewers of the next series of ITV's The Bay might even spot Cameron as one of the extras in the Morecambe-based drama.

'I have my good days and bad days just like anyone but I don't let it get to me as I want to enjoy life to the full,' he said.

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