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Grace takes action on Alzheimer’s

A high profile campaign to increase opportunities for young people to get involved in positive social action featured an inspirational Girls' Brigade (GB) member when it launched on Thursday (21 November).

Grace KellyThe Step Up To Serve's #iwill campaign was attended by HRH The Prince of Wales and the three main political party leaders at Buckingham Palace, with support from businesses, education institutions, faith groups, youth organisations and voluntary groups across the UK.

Also involved was 11-year-old Grace Kelly (pictured), a member of the GB group at Hawkwell Baptist Church in Rochford, Essex, and who was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and Radio 5 Live to help promote the campaign.

From cutting off her hair to selling homemade goodies, Grace has been a dedicated fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society since she lost her nanny, Annie.

Annie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 64 and died at 67 in March 2011. ‘Nanny Annie went from taking Grace to the corner shop for sweets to not being able to talk within a year,' said Grace’s mum Debbie.

'Grace visited Nanny Annie when she was in a nursing home, and at the end in hospital, and I think this had a real impact on her. When she died, Grace wanted to do something to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.’

In 2011 Grace had a stall at a Christmas fayre selling homemade goodies that she’d made. Then in 2012 she, along with five others from Girls' Brigade (GB), had their hair cut off raising £1,000 and donating the hair to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who’ve lost their hair through cancer treatment. A little from Grace’s pocket money goes to the Alzheimer’s Society and this year she’s holding a girly pamper evening, complete with chocolate and music.

Grace said, ‘It’s important to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society so that one day there won’t be any more of this horrid disease.’

Grace’s GB group leader Sally Claydon added, ‘Grace is a real inspiration to us all with her brilliant fundraising ideas and we’ve all got involved in making a difference for such a good cause.’

Current estimates suggest 29 per cent of young people are already active in their communities in the UK. Step Up To Serve aims to double the number of young people participating in meaningful social action to over 50 per cent by 2020, by increasing existing opportunities and opening up new and better ones. The campaign is focused on young people from the ages of 10 to 20, with a specific focus on building a habit for life.

GB is a member of Youth United – a network of voluntary organisations, with HRH The Prince of Wales as patron, working together to increase access to the opportunities they offer young people, particularly in disadvantaged areas, with funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Youth United has pledged there will be 40,000 additional places established by 2022 for young people to join groups like GB, Boys’ Brigade, Scouts and Girlguiding, supporting the aims of the Step Up To Serve campaign. This pledge will enable more young people to join organisations which support them to take part in social action.

Catherine Burt, 21/11/2013
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