Help to change negative tag given to young

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THE search is on to find a young person who can turn around the negative image that teenagers are binge-drinking, drug-taking, violent hoodies.

This is your chance to nominate a young person from the area who gives back to the community.

The University of Herts Young People of the Year (YOPEY) contest is in its eighth year and has a top prize of £800 up for grabs.

Last year’s winners included Hemel Hempstead teenager Natalie Payne, who is heavily involved in volunteer youth work despite also caring for her bi-polar mum.

The competition - run by registered charity YOPEY - is open to young people aged from 10 to 25-years-old who live, work or study in the county.

Anyone can nominate and entries close on September 30. The awards ceremony will be held at the University of Herts in November.

YOPEY was started in Herts back in 2005 by former national newspaper journalist Tony Gearing. From here it has expanded to Beds, Bucks, Cambs and Essex, and even further afield to Norfolk, Northhamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk and Yorkshire.

Mr Gearing said: “Hertfordshire is where YOPEY started, and Hertfordshire is where we continue to find some of the most amazing young people.

“There are so many young people in Herts doing wonderful things for others. It’s just that they live in the shadow of a well-publicised anti-social minority.

“Yet everywhere you look nowadays young people are being condemned. It’s almost as if they are all binge-drinking, drug-taking, violent hoodies.

“We need to give young people the respect they deserve and set up the best as positive role models for others to copy.”

Schools, youth groups, churches and charities can also nominate their young people. Visit or email