Scheme helps 600 youngsters

South Wales Argus: (2413599) (2413599)

A NATIONAL scheme that enables youngsters to raise awareness on issues close to them is celebrating its first anniversary in Wales.

Fixers is a unique charity that works with 16 to 25-year-olds across the UK, helping them campaign for any issue that they’re passionate about.

The award-winning project was launched in the UK over five years ago and made its way to Wales late last year, where it has already worked with more than 600 ‘fixers’.

The aim is to give youngsters a platform to raise awareness of any issue, ranging from homelessness to mental health issues, with the only condition being that their project helps at least one other person.

Each youngster is described as a ‘fixer’ and they can choose to develop anything from a website or music video to running poster campaigns or photography sessions.

The fixer is supported by the charity and given the resources to make their chosen project a success, with creative help from media professionals available.

Dwaynne Way, 21, from Cwmbran, was one of the fixers helped to create their idea.

The University of South Wales student was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, when he was just five years old.

He created a film that uses cartoons to explain autism in an effort to prevent young people from judging those who appear different to them.

He said: “The main reason I started doing the fix was because I heard some kids describe autistic people as hyperactive freaks.

“It was a negative stereotype, so I wanted to do the fix to raise awareness that we are normal, we just do things differently.

“The video highlights the traits of someone with autism so that it can raise awareness to people who don’t know much about it. Just two days after launch there was a girl whose family were struggling to deal with her being diagnosed with autism.

“They showed them my video and apparently it helped them understand it more. It made me feel quite proud that within two days I had helped someone.

“I’m grateful to fixers, as if I had done this myself, it would’ve taken me a couple of years, whereas this took a month from start to finish.

“They’ve helped me do it a lot faster than I could ever have dreamed of. The work they do with the kids is amazing.”

The funding comes from a £7.2 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund as well as donations made to the charity.

Fixers also have a working partnership with ITV News to report on the achievements of its young people and was set up in 2008 as a trademark of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust.

South Wales’ young people co-ordinator, Jenny Roach, is often the first point of contact for a youngster and helps them put their ideas into practice.

“We are completely young people focused,” said Ms Roach. “Young people come to us with their ideas and we just help them develop them. It’s absolutely amazing seeing a project come to life. Each one is individual and every end result is different.

“What we create is great, but to see the progress of the youngsters is even better. It’s a real personal development. The confidence, skills and belief it gives them is awesome. It opens up new avenues for them.

“It’s their projects all the way through. Nothing can go live or be set up until the young person has given it their stamp of approval.”

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