The Young Ambassador (YA) programme in Wales has gone from strength to strength.
“It offers fab opportunities for a young person and it is great for employability – you get so much experience, it is hard to fit it all on the CV!” says Beth Nesham, who has been involved in the YA programme over the past 7 years.
She has seen the programme grow from its infancy to where it is today, with around 3,000 active YA’s.
She continues: “Being a YA harnesses a sense of security, while also putting you outside of your comfort zone. You face challenges but still feel safe with the YA Family.”
A partnership led by Sport Wales and the Youth Sport Trust and delivered by key partners, the Young Ambassador programme aims to empower and inspire young people to become leaders through sport.
For some, the personal journey is huge.
“When I was starting as a YA, I was in a Unit for people with anxiety and it was pretty bad” says Fintan Edwards. “It came about for me when my confidence was starting to grow again and it gave me that extra boost. It gives me a purpose.”
“Now, I see myself as a normal person doing what I enjoy” he adds.
There are currently Young Ambassadors across primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and communities in all 22 Local Authorities across Wales championing school and community sport and physical recreation.
For many, they don’t want the journey to end!
Take Bronnie Griffiths, a student at Cardiff Met, who is now involved in the first Higher Education YA programme in the UK.
“I’ve developed personal and professional skills” explains Bronnie. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. It is thanks to the programme that I decided to go to university” she adds.
It has been another busy year for the Young Ambassadors. Many have been recognised for local, regional, national and UK wide awards. They’ve also seen the 7th National Gold YA Conference attended by 100 YA’s and 50 officers – and more importantly, planned and delivered by the YA’s themselves.
The YA programme has seen huge growth since it started in 2010. Since then, around 12,000 Young Ambassadors have been trained across Wales, volunteering thousands of hours to school and community sport and making a real difference to young people’s lives.