Three students took part in the YPI (youth philanthropic initiative) which raised £3,000 for Ealing Mencap.
Three Brentside students took part in the Youth Philanthropic Initiative raising cash for Ealing Mencap. Clockwise from seated: Ryan Howard, Harsharan Matharu and Gowthaman Kantharupan.
 

A trio of teenagers who took part in a philanthropic school project raised an incredible £3,000 for Ealing Mencap, writes Jane Harrison.

Two of the youngsters were so touched by the charity’s work they have become permanent volunteers, and the third plans to sign up when he is old enough.

Harsharan Matharu and Gowthaman Kantharupan, both 15, and Ryan Howard, 14, were nominated by Jess Davies, citizenship teacher at Brentside High School, Greenford Avenue, Hanwell.

She said: “Starting from a school project as part of the YPI (youth philanthropic initiative) competition, all three took a real interest in the issue of learning disabilities and mental health. Inspired by the subject, they were really proactive and visited several different local centres to find out about their work.

“They got in touch with Ealing Mencap, and after a visit, decided they wanted to represent them in the YPI competition.

“They volunteered a day and helped the centre with a video project, and two of them signed up to become permanent volunteers – the centre has an age limit of 15, but Ryan has signed up ready to go from his birthday.

“They then decided to do their own fundraising for Ealing Mencap, and organised a bake sale at school. Harsharan visited Steve Pound MP at his weekly surgery and asked for his support – he turned up to help them sell cakes at breaktime and made up the rest of the difference to their target sum afterwards.

“At the YPI final, they set up a stall selling small gifts which Harsharan sourced from a relative, to add to their fundraising. They also won the YPI final, gaining a grant of £3,000 for the charity.”

Harsharan, from Perivale, who wants to be a vet, said: “I didn’t know what they did there, but was always curious and wanted to find out.

“I was unsure what to expect but soon realised they understand a lot more than we think. We chose Ealing Mencap because we wanted people to appreciate the work they do. It gave me a real insight to see what people go through and now I am more empathetic. Now I volunteer in the holidays.”

Ryan, from Southall, who wants to be a police officer, said: “My auntie had a physical and learning disability so I had some idea what to expect. It opened my eyes to how much they struggle.

“When we first went we were strangers but they became more friendly and opened up to us.

“We were so relieved we won the final after raising £3,000 because we know how much they needed it.

“We felt we would have let them down if we hadn’t won. It will help with computers and the baking group.”

Gowthaman, from Perivale, who wants to be an engineer, said: “I used to pass Ealing Mencap on my way to athletics and wondered what it was.

“I used to be shy and found it hard to talk to people and was quite scared to go, but after meeting them it really changed me. It also changed my opinion of them and opened my eyes. We are now making a documentary in our media session.”