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Shelby Oct 19

Prime Minister supports campaigning of AoC Young Student of the Year finalist Shelby McCloud

Inspirational York College Pathways student Shelby McCloud has been named as a finalist for the Association of Colleges’ Young Student of the Year Award.

Shelby, who has Down Syndrome, has been recognised for her dedication to positively changing the way disabilities are viewed across College and beyond.

Her work as part of the “You Can’t Put Me Down Syndrome” campaign has even gained backing from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as well as pledges of support from 60 of his fellow MPs and she will now travel to Birmingham for the Awards Ceremony Conference Dinner on November 14.

Shelby will be contesting the Young Student of the Year category with Barnsley College’s Alfie Caunt and Emily Whittal, from Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College.

The Awards have five categories in total with the winners of each going on to attend a celebration event in London next spring.

As part of her campaigning, Shelby presented to the Houses of Parliament, along with 13 other Down Syndrome campaigners, to add representation to the debate about an expectant mother’s right to termination on the grounds of Down Syndrome.

The campaign has gained exposure on Sky Sports, Sky News, and Metro websites and Shelby’s work has also featured on BBC News, on the front cover of the Metro newspaper and on adverts in a variety of outlets, including Toni & Guy hair salons and David Lloyd Gyms.

Lee Probert, York College & University Centre Chief Executive & Principal, said:

“The impact that Shelby has had on the local and national stage is phenomenal. Winning the award would be an incredible achievement for any student and feels even more so when it's considered alongside her disability.

“Shelby has successfully highlighted the ABILITY part of having a disability and is a constant reminder to everyone across the college not to judge a book by its cover. Her work as an advocate for people with Down Syndrome is brilliant to all and I cannot think of anyone who would be better placed to win this award than Shelby.”

Shelby studies the York College & University Centre Pathways Programme, which is a programme specifically designed for learners with special educational needs. Her ambition is to become a make-up artist and she has undertaken an extended work placement in a beauty salon, to which she has received glowing feedback from her supervisors and customers alike.

“People need to know our stories. They need to know never to give up on us” – Shelby McCloud

Shelby has raised her profile further by undertaking personal challenges which were designed to raise both awareness and funding for the “Positive About Down Syndrome” charity.

This included undertaking 21 personal challenges each day for 21 days in the build up to World Down Syndrome Day. These challenges included activities like 21 maths questions and learning 21 spellings. She has also recently undertaken a challenge of walking 1,800 metres a day for 21 days to celebrate her 18th birthday.

Shelby has raised a considerable amount of money for the “Positive About Down Syndrome” charity. The number 21 relates to the additional chromosome (Chromosome 21) that people with Down Syndrome have.

Shelby’s sense of positivity is something that really underpins the work that she does. She does not consider herself to be challenged and does not seek sympathy from anyone else. Instead, she believes that she should be able to showcase the positivity, joy, drive and determination that she has to be a great success in her chosen career.

The AoC Young Student of the Year category, which is sponsored by Edge Foundation, was open to anyone aged 16 to 18-years-old and aims to celebrate truly unique students from AoC member colleges across England who deserve recognition and will go on to inspire others.

Edge Foundation are an independent foundation working to inspire the education system to give all young people across the UK the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to flourish in their future life and work.

Good luck Shelby!

The AoC Student of the Year awards are an opportunity to highlight outstanding and exceptional individuals and showcase their achievements, talents, and successes. As a College and community, we are incredibly proud of all that Shelby has achieved and wish her the very best of luck for the final.

Learn more

To donate to Shelby’s Local Giving page, click here.

For more information on the AoC Student of the Year Awards, click here.

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