Stories of young people who have overcome a range of individual challenges were shared when 19 students graduated from Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate in July.
Henshaws College specialises in supporting young people, aged 16–25, with a wide range of disabilities and additional support needs.
All 19 graduating students have varying levels of disability and have faced their own individual challenges in completing their courses and making the transition to the adult world.
The graduates were presented with their certificates by Rosie King, an activist for autism awareness, who at the age of 17 has already presented an Emmy Award winning documentary My Autism and Me and delivered a TEDMED talk on autism to over 1,000 people in Washington DC.
Rosie told the Henshaws students: “Today is about going beyond expectations, shoving the line that says you can’t do it, and doing what you want.”
Principal Angela North, said: “One of the characteristics that I love most about this College, is that our students are encouraged to be the best version of themselves.
“We strive together to ensure that their goals to secure a settled, contented and fulfilling adult life are met, as far as is possible.”
The winner of the 2016 Henshaws Got Talent Awards, Samuel McDermott, also performed at the event and there were special awards to five students:
The Maxine Foster Award, for the student who most embodies the spirit of enthusiasm for life and living, went to Nadeem Idris.
The Jessica Fielding Award for making a positive impact on others was won by Abigail Webster.
Joseph Mawer won the Gillian Lawrence Award for overcoming personal obstacles and being a positive role model for others. Joseph is an essential wheelchair user who has been learning to stand with the support of the college’s Disability Support Services team. He was able to get up out of his chair and stand with support to accept his graduation certificate.
Tom Oates collected the Student Fundraiser Award for his 10km run fundraising challenge which has to date raised almost £2,000 for the college.
The Joshua Rayner Award for the student with a unique and enthusiastic approach to their learning was presented to Jamie Grant, 21, of Knaresborough who has autism, epilepsy, ADHD, and profound learning difficulties and has developed his use of Makaton signing.