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Banff and Turriff secondary school pupils feature at YPI National Event

By Kyle Ritchie

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The Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) National Event brought together pupils, teachers, charity representatives and keynote speakers to celebrate the impact young people have made in their local communities.

Through YPI – a programme managed and majority funded by Aberdeen’s The Wood Foundation – a generation has been empowered to lead the force in driving change that is youth-led, community-focussed, sustainable, equitable, and meeting the needs of those who need it most.

The National Event, which took place at Perth Concert Hall and welcomed 1100 guests, was an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of this academic year as well as the legacy that has been created since the introduction of YPI in Scotland.

The Wood Foundation's vice-chairman Garreth Wood with pupils at the YPI National Event.
The Wood Foundation's vice-chairman Garreth Wood with pupils at the YPI National Event.

Many schools from Aberdeenshire, including Banff Academy and Turriff Academy, attended the event.

Since 2008, more than £7.6 million has been granted to charities. This year, the national programme engaged pupils from 280 Scottish secondary schools who raised £840,000 (£3000 per school) for causes close to their hearts.

The Wood Foundation’s Chairman Sir Ian Wood KT GBE said: “Through YPI, young people engage in meaningful discussions about challenging issues, discovering that everyone has the ability to drive change and make a positive impact on and for their communities across Scotland.

“The confidence displayed by the participating pupils at this year’s event was very impressive and it gives me a great degree of hope for the future.

“It is evident that youngsters have the courage and ability to make a difference and we are proud to have been able to provide them with a platform to do so for the past 16 years.

“The National Event also unites stakeholders who have played a vital role in YPI’s growth, development and success – including our funding partners, local authority colleagues, third sector bodies, and our schools who embrace the programme.”

The annual event was hosted by Euan and Blake from Denny High School, with pupils from 10 other Scottish secondary schools presenting moving and creative content.

In addition to the student presentations, which addressed issues including poverty, mental health and domestic violence, two keynote speakers also delivered thought-provoking speeches on the YPI stage.

Zander Murray – the first senior male footballer in Scotland to publicly come out as gay – captivated the audience with his inspiring talk “Be Bold, Be You”. The striker, who played for Gala Fairydean Rovers and recently retired, spoke to young people about his personal experiences, homophobia and inclusivity.

The second speaker was Robbie Tolson, a professional DJ who founded social enterprise Turn The Tables in 2020 to help those affected by mental illness, crime, poverty, and homelessness through the power of music. He was named in the 2023 Forbes 30 under 30 European list for social impact and entertained and enlightened Wednesday’s audience.

YPI Scotland was also excited to welcome up-and-coming Scottish musician Joe Goodall who took part in the YPI initiative when he was a pupil at Wallace High School. Joe returned to his former school earlier this year to be a judge at the school’s YPI finals.

He said: “I just think it is such a fantastic chance for young people to learn how to give back to their local communities and spend time around people in need and organisations desperate for public assistance.

“It certainly helped open up my eyes and even assisted me in finding a place to volunteer.”

The National Event celebrated youth voice, advocacy, and philanthropy, inspiring attendees to consider the next steps in their philanthropic journeys and how they can continue to make a difference.

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