Home Children and Young People Student Chloe named ‘Voice of Neurodiversity’ Youth Ambassador
Courtney, a student at Ascent Autism Specialist College, has been chosen as the voice of neurodiversity for the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Youth Ambassador programme.  

Student Chloe named ‘Voice of Neurodiversity’ Youth Ambassador

by Gemma Melling

Ascent Autism Specialist College student, Courtney, has been chosen as the voice of neurodiversity for the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Youth Ambassador programme.

The DofE UK Youth Ambassador programme involves a varied and engaging programme of activities running from June 2023 to May 2024. There are just a handful of places on the programme with only 30 Youth Ambassadors across the UK – making it even more incredible that Courtney was selected.

As part of her role as a DofE Youth Ambassador, Courtney will serve as a representative for young people, attend workshops to develop new skills, share ideas to make a positive contribution to make a difference and represent the DofE at public events such as conferences and Royal visits.

Earlier this year, Courtney achieved her ‘Access to Higher Education (HE)’ accredited qualification, equivalent to three A-levels, despite many anxieties and complexities related to her autism. While studying, Ascent staff challenged Courtney to step out of her comfort zone and build her social and communication skills, which included her becoming a Young Leader for the DofE.

Ascent Autism Specialist College is a Duke of Edinburgh-approved centre for SEND children and young people. The college is based in Newton-le-Willows but welcomes young autistic adults from across the North West. They currently have students from as far as Bolton enrolled at the college.

As part of her DofE Young Leader duties, Courtney acted as a role model to her peers and shared the advantages of the DofE programme, including how the strategies can help overcome barriers to engagement and the resilience to develop yourself and reduce vulnerabilities in college, work, and the community.

Emma Hepworth, operations officer for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “I have had the pleasure of meeting Courtney on a few occasions, and I am really excited for her to receive this opportunity as she has already completed the Young Leader Programme, and has been helping within the college.

“She is so passionate about DofE, and I really think this will be amazing for her.”

Head of adult services at Ascent Autism Specialist College, Julliet Doherty, burst with pride for Courtney’s achievements. She shared: “Courtney is an outstanding role model, and I am so proud to witness her ongoing success.

“Courtney gives one hundred percent to everything and is truly passionate about helping others – a rare and precious quality. To be selected as one of 30 Youth Ambassadors across the UK is no small feat; we are incredibly proud of Courtney.

“It is fantastic to see a representation of neurodiversity within the DofE Youth Ambassador Programme, enabling those with autism to have a voice on a national platform. The sky is the limit for Courtney, and I look forward to witnessing what the future has in store for her.”

Courtney was delighted after receiving the news. She said:  “I am so happy to be a part of such an important initiative. The Duke of Edinburgh Award has helped me in so many ways and I want to use my experience to support other young people like me. I am honoured and excited to get started with my role as Youth Ambassador.”

Courtney recently applied to complete a supported internship with the college, where she can receive additional experience for her employability aspirations to work in a nursery or with young children.

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