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Shelby Mc Cloud York College 1

Former York College student and AoC Young Student of the Year finalist, Shelby McCloud returns to campus

Ahead of the AoC Student of the Year finals on November 14th, 18-year-old Shelby McCloud, from Stillingfleet, York, paid a visit to her former college to talk all things politics, hoovering, boyfriends and fashion!

Shelby, who has Down Syndrome, studied our Pathways to Independent Learning programme after previously attending Barlby High School. Shelby and mum, Suzanne, have always believed passionately that she had a right to be at a mainstream school with the same opportunities as everyone else.

Shelby’s inspiring story and wider campaigning has even gained the support of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Following this, Shelby was invited for a tour of the Houses of Parliament, led by York Central MP, Rachael Maskell.

“The tour was fascinating. I originate from South Africa and so enjoyed learning about UK politics. Rachael Maskell was lovely and explained everything to us so well.” – Suzanne McCloud.

Shelby, who says she “felt like a film star”, enjoyed meeting MPs and famous actors such as Brian McCardie who plays Tommy on BBC’s Line of Duty. In the excitement of the visit, Shelby even video-called her classmates at College to tell them all about her day and who she had met.

“I want to change the narrative from negative to positive. People with Down Syndrome shouldn’t be written off. They have the same hopes and dreams as other people, including when it comes to boyfriends!” – Shelby McCloud.

Shelby, who met boyfriend Jack on her course at York College, says it was “love at first sight” and is looking forward to spending their first anniversary at a JLS concert this month.

The determined teen talked more about her campaigning and, in particular, that of her 21 Challenges in aid of Positive About Down Syndrome.

She has now raised more than £5,000 for the national initiative.

Shelby’s 21 Challenges took place over a three-year period and saw her take on tasks such as basketball, cooking recipes from scratch, cycling and, her most challenging of all, hoovering. Nobody likes hoovering!

“Campaigning is important to me because I want people to know that I’m the same as everyone else. I take a little bit longer to get there, but I get there in the end” – Shelby McCloud.

Shelby, who speaks highly of her experience at York College, described how her course developed her teamwork skills, gave her the opportunity to make new friends and taught her life skills.

Laughing, mum Suzanne said: “Shelby is more excited to come back to York College today than she was to go to the Houses of Parliament.”

But it wasn’t all classroom work at College; Shelby has fond memories of the exciting trips she went on including a visit to Xscape in Castleford and The Deep in Hull. She also particularly enjoyed a task she was given to create a pamper package which included bath bombs, lip balm and lip scrub.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shelby didn’t get the opportunity to have a prom when leaving her former secondary school, so she already has two dresses ready to choose from for the November final. However, being the fashionista that she is, she is adamant that she needs a new frock for the big day!

Shelby, Suzanne and Acting York College & University Centre Chief Executive and Principal Ken Merry will attend the AoC Student of the Year finals on 14th November where they will enjoy a drinks reception and gala dinner before the winners are announced.

Good luck Shelby!

The very best of luck, Shelby. We’re routing for you and, no matter the outcome on the night, it’s a fantastic achievement to have gotten this far. It’s a true reflection on your determination.

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Opportunities such as these, allow us to work towards a better future in line with The Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

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