Good communication skills are an important part of learning and everyday life, and have a big impact upon children and young people’s life chances. But for one million children, who have communication needs, skills many of us take for granted, like sharing stories, asking a question, offering help to others and making friends, are challenging.
When we launched the Shine a Light Awards in 2011, with The Communication Trust it was a key part of the national year of communication, and we were thrilled to see people starting to actively talk about what communication means to them, such as sharing ideas about how to talk to your baby: “I will sing nursery rhymes to my baby when I'm changing her nappies” and hearing from young people about the difference teams, teachers, and individuals have made to them by providing amazing support - buddy systems at school, nature walks, and becoming ambassadors themselves to raise money for charity.
But luckily those conversations didn’t stop there, during the course of that year and the subsequent 3 annual awards that have come, we’ve been incredibly luckily to meet some inspiring people who continue to support children and young people who make a difference to others.
Jack Marshall who last year was also named Young Personality of the Year at the Yorkshire Young Achievers Award was also our first Young Person of the Year Award winner, and completely stole the show that night; and not only at the 2011 awards ceremony, but the following year too when we invited him to join us as a judge! His passion for supporting others, overcoming difficulties and amazing comic timing brought many smiles and a tear to everyone’s eye; and we’re all still talking about his impact four years on. Or there’s Shane Dangar, our Communication Champion 2013/14 who has Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD and whom I’m delighted to learn has gone on to university to study psychology and SEND/inclusion. The list goes on, and I’d encourage you to visit the awards site for even more inspiration.
Now we are looking for entries for our fifth annual awards (how did we get here). Whether you are a nursery, school, SEN group, college, SLT team, individual or young person – we want to hear from you about how you support the young people in your settings. Tell us about the tools you have in place, about a teacher who has made a difference to your child’s confidence, or about how a young person you know has set up a group and shared their experience of coping with communication needs. This is your time to ‘Shine a Light’ on outstanding work that takes place and inspires others to follow suit.
The awards are open for entries until 12 January 2017.