Spalding town centre is to be taken over by a group of teenagers next week in an effort to raise both awareness and money for children with learning needs.
A collection of ten 16 and 17-year-olds will be busking, shaking collection buckets and talking to shoppers while wearing fancy dress, all for Welcome2OurWorld, a Wisbech-based charity helping families affected by autism.
The teenagers are all approaching their final week on the 16-day National Citizen Service (NCS) programme, set up by the then Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government in 2011 to encourage young people in teamwork, communication and social action.
Hayley Butts, NCS cohort leader for Lincolnshire, said: “We have two young people in our group who are directly affected by autism and when deciding on a charity to raise money for, we took the two young people into account.
“It was felt that autism would be something our young people became passionate about, as well as giving something back to the community.”
The youngsters spent a week at an adventure camp in Cheshire before moving on to Nottingham University for a week of team building activities.
This week has been spent planning how to best raise funds for Welcome2OurWorld, including the idea of a tombola in Spalding on Tuesday market day, a dressing-up and busking day next Wednesday and a karaoke day on Thursday.
All the money raised will go towards a new sensory room to help autistic children and youngsters with learning needs
Rosie Aston (16), of Spalding, one of the youngsters taking part in NCS, said: “It’s been brilliant and I’ve learned many things like first aid after we heard a talk by someone from St John Ambulance.
“I’ve become more confident, happier and now I wouldn’t mind helping other people by volunteering with NCS.”
It’s been brilliant, I’ve learned many things, I’ve become more confident, happier and now I wouldn’t mind helping other peopleRosie Aston of Spalding, one of the youngsters on NCS
Jess Green, NCS mentor for the group, said: “Rosie was quiet and reserved at the start of NCS.
“But by the second week, she was like a brand new and confident Rosie.
“The rest of the group were a bit nervous at first and it was a challenge to get anyone to talk because no one knew anyone else.
“Then pretty much everyone jumped in feet first and it became a brand new, confident group
“They’ve been really proactive and now we’re really looking forward to going out with these young people into the community.
“Their enthusiasm for Welcome2OurWorld really sets them apart and it’s a charity that’s very close to their hearts.
“Next week will be the most enjoyable week for a group that has gone from not knowing each other to one that has actually come together and is campaigning for something they are really passionate about.”