By David Hennessy
Hollywood star Will Poulter, known for the film We’re the Millers where he acted with Jennifer Aniston, is among the stars who will be present at Facebook Headquarters in Dublin this Wednesday April 30 when the first Diana Awards to be presented in Ireland are given out to honour young people doing their best to tackle bullying.
Tessy Ojo, CEO of the Diana Award, told The Irish World: “One of the things we always want to do is to highlight the good that young people are doing in their communities. I am totally humbled by how much young people do to make a change in their communities.
“Princess Diana believed that young people have the power to change their world and what we do is empower these young people to make the changes. We train the young people, we give them the skills and the confidence and we just let them run with the programme.”
The Diana Award is an award set up in memory of Princess Diana for young people and are due to be given out to young people from all over Ireland and will highlight some of the best peer-led anti-bullying practice taking place in schools across the Republic and Northern Ireland. Many of the young people have experienced bullying themselves and are now actively tackling bullying both online and offline with outstanding results. The Diana Award have made schools across the UK and Ireland safer by training over 10,000 young people through their Anti-bullying Ambassadors programme since its launch in 2012.
Tessy Ojo adds: “We are celebrating 60 young people on Wednesday, you have almost 60 different programmes that these young people have running at schools and that is really the power in encouraging and just empowering young people because they are creative in their own right. What we’re doing is shining a little spotlight on this.
“Some people have run their anti-bullying programmes as an on-line programme, some people have used things like Facebook and Twitter to run their campaigns. Some people have run things like lunchtime clubs to support young people who are being bullied or even taught parents computer sessions so that parents can support their children outside of school. In terms of activities, the range is huge of what the young people have done. It’s a great celebration, really.
Online bullying is an increasing problem for young people: “Our most recent research shows that 81% of young people say that cyber bullying is getting worse and because young people live in technology, they’ve got everything in their smartphones- When I was growing up, bullying was very much in the playground and then you go home and you’re safe. That’s not the case today. Young people live online and therefore, it’s important because they understand technology that they’re empowered to use technology to tackle bullying.”
The Diana award was set up as a lasting legacy to Princess Diana’s belief that young people have the power the change the world for the better. Her sons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry support this prestigious award.
21-year-old Will Poulter, who took the BAFTA for EE Rising Star and MTV Breakthrough Performance, is an Anti-Bullying Ambassador for the Diana Award. He said: “I’m so proud to be supporting the amazing work of all the Irish Diana Anti-Bullying Ambassadors and particularly delighted to be presenting the first Diana Award in Ireland. I know from my own experiences that bullying can be incredibly damaging and it’s important that young people come together to end its harmful effects.”
Other high profile people attending the event include former Westlife star Brian McFadden and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Jordan O’Keefe from Northern Ireland, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald and the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
Brian McFadden said: “I was bullied throughout my schooldays. No one should have to suffer from bullying, especially at school where you should be free to learn, achieve and be happy. I’m incredibly proud and honoured to be at Facebook’s Headquarters in Dublin to recognise young people that are taking a stand against bullying. The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Ambassador Programme needs to be in every school in Ireland.”
Jordan O’Keefe who came to prominence on last year’s Britain’s Got Talent said: “Last year one of my twitter followers told me they were being cyber-bullied so badly that it had left her in such a distraught state, so much so that she was going to take her own life. After getting in touch with the Diana Awards Anti-Bullying Ambassador team I was able to get some good advice and help her through it. I suffered bullying when I was younger and didn’t have anyone to speak to. I want any young person in that position to know they don’t need to suffer in silence and finding someone to talk to will really help them.’’
For the full feature, see the May 3 Irish World.
To nominate a young person to join the Ambassadors programme or for information on the Diana Award visit: www.diana-award.org.uk.