A teenager from Sheffield living with Moebius Syndrome, an extremely rare congenital neurological disorder, has been selected for a national position at the country’s flagship youth programme, National Citizen Service (NCS). The role recognises the teenager’s huge transformation on the youth programme last summer and his contribution to the local community.
Within his new role as Social Inclusion Ambassador at NCS, 17 year old Jack Marshall will be encouraging young people across the country, regardless of their background or ability, to sign up to the youth empowerment programme. The role is likely to involve touring the country, visiting local providers and schools to explain the importance of allowing young people with disabilities to have the same opportunities as their peers.
Jack’s condition means he is in a wheelchair and suffers from facial paralysis which affects his speech. However, he refused to let this hold him back when taking part in the NCS programme last summer. In fact, it made him even more determined to join in with his peers as they took on outward bound challenges like rock climbing, learnt new skills and created a project to benefit their local community.
Within his group, Jack not only became a friend but an inspiration to others around him, helping them to realise the barriers faced by those with disabilities in the area. As a result, the teenagers decided to dedicate their social action project to improving accessibility in the area where Jack played an important role by convincing his local MP to spend a day in a wheelchair to witness accessibility issues first hand, leading him to write a letter addressed to local banks and supermarkets to reconsider how accessible their services are. The project has since been nominated for a national Social Action Award sponsored by Santander.
Jack Marshall, aged 17, Social Inclusion Manager at NCS Trust says:
“Before going on NCS, I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in or wouldn’t be able to take part in the activities. Luckily, my fears were soon put to rest. I met an amazing group of friends and my team leaders were really encouraging and supportive meaning for the first time I didn’t feel like I’d be left out, instead I was part of a fantastic team.
“The experience was so transforming for me that I didn’t want it to end. When NCS approached me with this role I was really excited to be able to help others in similar situations to put their fears aside and have the same amazing experience I had.”
A consistent fundraiser, from skydiving to wheelchair racing, since going on the programme Jack has even set up his own charity called Jack’s Acts of Charitable Kindness (JACK) where he raises funds for lesser known good causes.
Natasha Kizzie, Head of Marketing for NCS Trust, says:
“Jack’s enthusiasm and determination was something we couldn’t ignore. He has this amazing ability to inspire those around him which makes Jack perfect for the role of Social Inclusion Manager. Jack’s list of achievements shows that you really can do anything if you put your mind to it and are given the right opportunities. With Jack’s help we want NCS to be known as a life changing opportunity that’s open to every young person across the country, whatever their ability or background.”
Linda Marshall, Jack’s mother, says:
“Jack has always been determined not to let his condition hold him back, but this has meant he’s faced disappointments in the past when he just hasn’t been able to do what everyone else was doing. NCS changed all that – this time he wasn’t told ‘no’. Instead he was encouraged and supported to join in the activities which meant he was really able to push himself and realise what he’s capable of. The transformation in his confidence and enthusiasm, particularly for helping others, was phenomenal and I’m so glad he’s been given an opportunity to share that with thousands of other young people in this new role.”
NCS offers a unique opportunity for fun, adventure and discovery for young people and runs across England and Northern Ireland this summer. It is open to all 16-17 year olds for no more than £50. For more information or to sign up to the summer programme visit www.ncsyes.co.uk.