A NORTHERN Rivers charity with a charter to recognise the achievements of youth is expanding its work into the Tweed.
Kids in Community (KIC) give awards every year to a diverse group of impressive young people, which last year included a Sudanese refugee life guard and an indigenous scholarship winner.
“We started 10 years ago because we were sick of the bad press young people get,” KIC president Des Kelly.
“All that gets reported about young people is that a kid has kicked in a window or stolen a car.”
But Mr Kelly said the young people doing volunteer work, winning sporting and academic awards or setting up amazing projects were rarely recognised.
He said by giving these young stars awards, KIC was not only patting them on the back but showing other youth what they could achieve.
KIC, whose patron is actress Rachel Ward, holds its award night in Lismore and gives prizes to 106 individuals and groups.
“Our program is well known in schools in the Northern Rivers, but now we are taking it into Tweed schools,” he said.
KIC has formed a partnership with Connect, another not-for-profit community group that works with young people, setting up work placements.
“Because of Connect’s resources and contacts we have been able to short-circuit what we wanted to achieve on the Tweed by two to three years,” Mr Kelly said.
Mr Kelly said KIC has changed the lives of some young people.
He sites the example of a Lismore student who cared for autistic children in her spare time.
After being nominated for a KIC award she decided to study childhood development at university.
He said the indigenous KIC award winner from Tabulam, Paula Avery, also recently won a scholarship to a prestigious Sydney girl’s school.
“At our award night when a young person gets up on stage in front of more than 500 people and receives a prize from a well-known celebrity, you can see their chest swell,” Mr Kelly said.