YOUNGSTERS at a youth project travelled nearly 3,000 miles to achieve a top-level award.
The dozen members from the Box Youth Project earned their Platinum Youth Achievement Awards.
These are the highest level of the national award verified by UK Youth.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland, Councillors Robert and Juliana Heron, handed over the awards to the young achievers at the project’s base in Sunderland.
They heard how the group worked tirelessly for 14 months to achieve their awards.
As part of the challenge, they went to Gambia in West Africa to work on projects with the school and community.
Each youngster also had to tackle a series of challenges, including completing 60 hours of training, 120 hours of volunteering and making a presentation of their work to an audience.
Grace Allen, 19, from Plains Farm, was among those who reached the Platinum Award standard.
“This opportunity has really helped me turn my life around,” she said. “I have enrolled to go back to college in September this year and fully intend to go to university in September next year.
“As a result of being involved in Project Gambia and doing my youth achievement award, I am much more focused in what I want to achieve in my life and have met some great friends along the way.”
Award co-ordinator Denise Barna is delighted by the achievement of the group, which meets at the project in Hall Farm.
She said: “Our young people have shown great determination and commitment to achieve this prestigious award. They have worked extremely hard over the last year to balance pressures of studying with part-time jobs, alongside endless weekends spent fund-raising, attending training and weekly group work sessions.”