Top NCS graduate reveals her Kenyan adventure

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Out of Africa - top NCS graduate Katie Desmond reveals her Kenyan adventure as 2018 activity programmes launch for Derbyshire youth.

Teenager Katie Desmond from Alvaston in Derby hopes her trip to provide a new library facility for African schoolchildren will inspire other young people to become involved in this summer’s National Citizen Service (NCS).

Eighteen year old Katie recently returned from Kenya after spending more than a week creating a bright new learning space that will be used by 200 students, but her journey began when she took the step to enrol with NCS - the UK’s leading youth empowerment programme. Katie’s progress was acknowledged when she was picked as Derby’s NCS Graduate of the Year for her outstanding contribution - a role that runs for 12 months.

EMPOWERING NCS

Katie was one of around 520 young people from Derby who took part in the four week school summer holiday programme that involves outdoor activities, skills development and a final fortnight planning and working on a community initiative to benefit local people.

NCS is delivered regionally by Ingeus in conjunction with Derby County Community Trust, which has charitable links with a number of schools in the Nakuru district in Kenya.

As part of the 2017 selection process to become the area’s top NCS graduate, Katie’s proposed project was to fundraise to create a secure library room at the Jubilee Academy in a deprived neighbourhood in Nakuru. Katie was finally selected as Derby’s current Graduate of the Year from a group of 14 NCS finalists.

WHAT KATIE DID NEXT

After eight months of money-generating appeals at her school, and with family and friends, Katie collected £1,600 and flew out to Kenya last month with a group of NCS volunteers to help create the library and provide additional books for the schoolchildren.

“It was just so amazing,” said Katie a recent student at the Noel-Baker Academy. “I have always wanted to be involved in a community project and going to Africa was just a dream come true for me. The people were amazing and so appreciative of everything we were trying to do.

“I had originally planned to keep the books secure in a lockable cage-like container. I discovered a metal worker in the local market and negotiated the price for its construction. He also made a metal door and fixtures for the windows to keep the books safe when the school was closed. I bartered with him and got the price down. I felt nervous, but I just went for it because I thought the more money that I can save, the more I can spend on the school books. We painted the room and made it nice and bright for the children.”

She added: “I have learnt so much being part of the NCS programme and I have grown in confidence. I am hoping to go and study at Manchester University in September and the interview panel was really interested in my fundraising and plans for the Kenyan school. I think it made a difference.”

AN OUTSTANDING CANDIDATE

Simon Doherty, NCS Project Manager with Derby County Community Trust, commented: “Katie was quite simply outstanding and we are delighted at her success. In fact, she is returning this year to volunteer as a team leader. This role is very much about helping and motivating the teenage participants. We all feel that Katie has achieved so much and has come a long way since joining the NCS programme."