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Corelli College students pick up award at Houses of Parliament for work on mental health issues

Image 1_Rt. Hon John Bercow presents Natalia Feistauer and the rest of the Student Leaders with their award © UK Parliament-Jessica TaylorStudents from London co-operative Academy Corelli College recently visited the Houses of Parliament to pick up a winners’ trophy for the prestigious Speaker’s School Council Award.

The Corelli College Student Council beat stiff competition in the secondary school age (11-16) category in a national competition that attracted over 700 entries across all four age categories. The Student Leaders who form the Student Council at Corelli have always been passionate about issues that affect them as young people, and this year focused their efforts on championing mental health and road safety issues to create a positive change. The students chose to focus on raising awareness of mental health issues as they felt passionate about supporting others to overcome challenges they may face.

The gala day began with a tour of the Palace of Westminster, before the students had the honour of mixing, and discussing their ideas, with a host of MPs and other officials at a lunch hosted in the Speaker’s apartment. This presented the students with a unique opportunity to engage MPs and share their views about mental health and possible solutions.

Image 2_ Student Leaders Ope Ojo, Natalia Feistauer, Chloe Toland, Helima Rahman, Olakunle Labinjoh & Cyrus Pacotho © UK Parliament-Jessica TaylorThe highlight of the day was the winners’ presentation ceremony hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow. The Speaker introduced the students, congratulated them on their success and spoke about what made their work stand out from the hundreds of other high standard entries. The Speaker then presented Student Leaders with the winners’ trophy, certificate and web badge, which was accompanied by a huge round of applause from an audience that included Clive Efford, MP for Eltham. Led by Natalia Feistauer, the Student Leaders then gave an acceptance speech, and had the privilege of addressing the assembled audience and sharing their thoughts on why their work is so important in creating positive change.

The Speaker’s School Council Awards was launched in 2010, and the standard of student work has been improved each year – something which has not gone unnoticed by Rt. Hon John Bercow. When presenting the Corelli students with their award, he heaped warm praise on them and explained that they had won the award because they tackled an issue that as a society we avoid talking about. This immediately caught his attention amongst the hundreds of other entries as he found this approach refreshing and highly impressive.

Image 3_Natalia Feistauer addresses the audience as the other Student Leaders look on © UK Parliament-Jessica TaylorCorelli College’s Principal, Trisha Jaffe, is very proud of the students’ achievement, and especially by the fact they have been able to voice their views to such an influential audience. Trisha said: “Applying for the Speaker’s School Council Award was a further way of affirming that our young people within this Co-operative Academy are thinking about the well-being of others. They feel that they can make a difference to people’s lives. Applying for the award has allowed them to look objectively at what they intended and what impact it has had so far. I am immensely proud of the contribution they make within the college and in the community. It is what social responsibility is about.”

The work of the Student Leaders plays an important role in their educational and personal development and Assistant Principal Karen Cronin is dedicated to helping the students to make an even bigger difference to their lives, and those of their peers and community.

Karen said: “I am immensely proud of the achievements of all student leaders involved in the leadership programme at Corelli College. The passion, vision and dedication of the students working on the mental health project has been fantastic. They have tackled a difficult issue head on and have reflected the college’s co-operative values in all they have done. Their sense of social responsibility has been impressive.

In receiving the award, the students commented that the most important thing was that their voices had been heard.

Everyone at Corelli College would like to congratulate the students on this momentous achievement, and the school hopes that it serves as inspiration for other students at the college and across the borough, and for the community.

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