New adventure for more than 1,000 Cumbrian teenagers
Today marks the start of a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the largest cohort of Cumbrian school leavers to take part in a successful national youth scheme.
More than 1,000 county teenagers completing year 11 this summer are embarking on their National Citizen Service (NCS).
The first group of 84 young people will leave west Cumbria and Eden this morning.
NCS is delivered locally by Inspira.
Penrith-based Inspira is also a main sponsor of The Golden Apple Awards, which are brought to you by CN Group which publishes the News & Star.
NCS is the country's fastest growing youth programme, open to all 15 and 17 year olds across England and Northern Ireland.
It is a three-week full-time scheme focused around fun and discovery.
Participants will volunteer for at least 30 hours too on community projects to tackle issues important to them.
The group is heading to the Howtown Outward Bound activity centre at Ullswater for their first week.
They will then live at the Newton Rigg College campus near Penrith for a week to experience what it is like to live away from home.
There they will learn to cook, clean and fulfil daily responsibilities.
Mark Bowman, chief executive of Inspira, said: "We’re delighted once again to be sending out over 1,000 young people from Cumbria on NCS once again this summer, and we look forward to seeing their social action projects as they progress through the programme."
Inspira also delivers NCS in Lancashire.
Across Cumbria and Lancashire, 3,400 young people will be taking part in NCS this summer.
The programme is designed to create a more cohesive society by mixing young teenagers from a wide variety of backgrounds.
It also seeks to support school leavers' transitions into adulthood by enabling them to develop essential skills for work and life.
Some 1.5 million hours have already been volunteered by tens of thousands of NCS graduates to communities across England and Northern Ireland since 2011.
Cumbria was one of 12 areas chosen to initially pilot the NCS scheme.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron joined teenagers at Ullswater six years ago to find out how the embryonic NCS programme could contribute to his Big Society plans.
Mr Cameron, last October, was confirmed as chairman of NCS patrons. It was his first position after leaving Number 10.