Josephine Osei – Citizens:mk Youth Leader of 2016-17

After a year leading the Redways Relaunch campaign, 18-year-old Josephine Osei of MK Academy has been awarded Citizens:mk’s Young Leader of the Year Award.  This is a new award recognising the extraordinary talents of MK’s most able youth leaders.

“Before I started the Citizens:mk program, I was just like any other teenager who had something that they were angry about but did not have any power or motivation to create a change,” said Josephine.  “Then I attended a one day training and realised that actually I could have the power to make a real change in my community.”

In its first year, the Redways Relaunch campaign has had remarkable success.  First, a student-led survey of more than 2,000 students in five MK schools showed that, while 80% used the Redways (pedestrian and cycle paths) only 40% felt safe on them.  Most thought that three things could be done to make a difference:  improving lighting, cutting back bushes and reducing litter.

“Young people like the Redways, but want them to be brighter, safer and cleaner,” said Josephine.  “Through this Citizens program I have learnt to be a leader, one who knows what is right and does it by collaborating with people in power.  Through this journey, I have seen my actions inspiring other people and this has been very fulfilling for me.

“One thing that I have been able to overcome is my fear of speaking in an open crowd.  It has actually made me feel unstoppable.  Now, if I want to do something, I feel empowered to do it because my self confidence has increased greatly.”

In her role as campaign leader, Josephine addressed  various audiences including 70 business people gathered at MK’s City Breakfast Club at thestadium:mk.

“Josephine has increased her confidence and developed her leadership skills to such an extent she can now communicate with all elements of the community,” said MK Academy teacher Debbie Gockelen, “sometimes leading adults much older than herself.”

“I would personally recommend this role to each and every student who knows that they also want to be a part of a change,” said Josephine.

Pictured above, Josephine speaks directly to the Leader of the Council in front of 400 school pupils outside Marks & Spencer in the city centre.  On behalf of the pupils in five schools she asked for, and won, a pledge in MK’s 50th birthday year to make 50 improvements to the Redways.