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Teenagers lead team for street festival

Z’Ajae Lee, centre, and Toriah Smith ,right, have formed the new youth wing of Gina Spence’s charity Gina Spence Productions

Two teenage schoolgirls are to spearhead community activist Gina Spence’s Christmas Community Outreach Street Festival this weekend.

Z’Ajae Lee and Toriah Smith have helped organise volunteers for the annual festive event on Hamilton’s Court Street and will lead a small team in prepare 100 bags of groceries to go to families in need.

And the Saltus Grammar School pupils have formed a new youth wing of Ms Spence’s charity to set up a mentoring programme for schoolchildren.

This Saturday’s street festival, which will also provide seniors with gift cards for medication as well as free health checks, will be one of the first events that Ms Lee and Ms Smith have helped organise.

Ms Smith, 17, who grew up in Court Street, Pembroke, but now lives in Somerset said: “It’s been a really good experience; we’ve had to find responsible people to help us organise the street festival as well as a team to help us pack the 100 grocery bags.

“It’s all about helping the community.”

The teenagers have assembled a crew of five volunteers to help pack the 100 bags of groceries tonight to be handed out to families tomorrow.

They will also help organise the various vendors that will set up on Court street for the event.

Ms Lee, 17, from Parson’s Road, Pembroke, added: “I have friends who don’t have someone pushing them and in their corner providing some of the support we get in school.

“Through the youth wing we want to provide a mentoring programme that helps all children. The street festival this weekend is one of the first events we have helped organise but we have lots of plans for the future.”

Court Street in Hamilton will be closed off between 12pm and 5pm for the street festival, which is now in its 25th year.

Ms Spence said: “It’s amazing to see these two young ladies get involved in a project like this; but it also gives them a great insight into what it takes to run events such as the community outreach street festival.

“They have provided a huge amount of help and sat in on meetings; so they fully understand what it takes.

“For me personally I started doing this kind of thing when I was 15, so to see these two young ladies take up the challenge and show an interest in these community events bodes well for the future.

“I’m very proud that we have connected with these young women. This weekend they will be in the heart of the community feeding seniors soup, working back stage and setting up. “They’ll be going through the entire process.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation should visit ginaspenceproductions.com or call Ms Spence on 707-5224.