Boxes of smiles handed out by teens in Bognor

Mayor Phil Woodall with Steve Herne and Dilaxiha Rajendra
Mayor Phil Woodall with Steve Herne and Dilaxiha Rajendra

A group of young people joined together to harness the power of a smile earlier this month, as they handed out more than 140 boxes of smiles in Bognor Regis.

The 16 and 17 year olds gave out the boxes as part of their National Citizen Service (NCS) - a country-wide programme which helps young adults build their confidence, mix with different social groups and inspire real change through local community-based action projects.

Each box contained a different treat inside and, once people got over their surprise or suspicions, they really were happy to receive one.

Dilaxiha Rajendran, one of the participants, said: “It’s been very successful and I think personally I’m really glad I have done this social action project because I can see how many people need that smile.

“We went into a charity shop to give one to the volunteers and they said they really needed it and it made their day. I just hope that it kind of teaches people that you can give out a smile and kindness doesn’t cost.”

Before taking part in this latest social action project, the group also came together on the Isle of Wight for the adventure and discovery phases of NCS.

As well as managing their own lunch budget, self-reflection tasks and profiling the community, the teams also tested their hands at axe throwing, body boarding, climbing, archery and team challenges.

Stephen Hillier, County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The activities may have just looked like fun but they took the teenagers out of their comfort zones and the groups were also given increased responsibility and independence throughout the week.

“NCS is a fantastic programme which really does help teenagers stand out from the crowd when making job applications.”

To find out more about NCS, visit www.yourspacewestsussex.co.uk, call 0330 222 2279 or email ncs@westsussex.gov.uk. The latest NCS activities are also available via www.facebook.com/WestSussexNCS/.