By Tony Dewhurst
Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Rotherham United hosted Government Minister Francis Maude when he visited Yorkshire to meet teenagers taking part in a groundbreaking new scheme, National Citizen Service.
The Football League Trust is one of a dozen providers piloting the National Citizen Service, which brings together 16-year-olds from different backgrounds in a summer programme of challenges and learning.
It aims to help them develop the confidence, skills and attitudes they need to become more engaged with their communities and to become more active and responsible citizens.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office got to hear about the experiences of youngsters involved in the National Citizen Service across South Yorkshire and the impact their social action projects are having on their local communities.
"The young people I met in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley really impressed me with their excitement and enthusiasm for making a difference to their communities," said Francis Maude.
"We all want a bigger, stronger society, these young people taking part in National Citizen Service are leading the whole country, their families and communities should be very proud of their achievements.
"This wouldn't be possible without the support of organizations like The Football League Trust, creating a life changing experience for these teenagers.
"I thank them for their drive and commitment and look forward to hearing more about their success."
The Football League Trust has helped promote a variety of NCS activities this summer, including running and promoting local sports coaching sessions and organizing a 'Paralympic Sports Day' in Barnsley.
Elsewhere, healthy eating programmes were staged in Rotherham as part of their 'Fit For Football' scheme, while in Sheffield youngsters helped with community gardening and clear-up projects.
The young people are among the first 10,000 pioneering the scheme which the Government hopes to make available to all 16-year-olds in England.
Loo Brackpool, a Football League Trust Regional Community Manager, said: 'We've had an amazing response and the National Citizens Service is making a big impact."
There will be a special National Citizen Service graduation ceremony at Wembley Arena next month ahead of England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales on September 6.
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