‘Follow your dreams and realise your potential’ – that’s the message campaigner Soraya Kelly is taking to disadvantaged youngsters in schools in south Wales.
Soraya (49) a mum of four who lives in Rhoose, first made headlines with her #theglovesareon campaign last year. She fought to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer and won support from a host of celebrities, sports stars and politicians.
That campaign continues, but Soraya, who had a difficult family background growing up, is keen to motivate young people of today who can relate to her lived-in experience.
She has been giving talks to young people in primary and high schools in Cardiff and hopes to bring them to the Vale.
She said: “It’s learning about triumph over adversity and that youngsters should never give up on their dreams. We teach them about the importance of having healthy relationships and the benefits of being able to work in a team.
Soraya, and her team are acutely aware out that some young people are facing issues unknown to previous generations – internet safety, online bullying, online emotional abuse, and the threat of serious violence such as knife crime.
She said: “I make a connection with them by telling them about my family background and how I made a success of my life. Children and young people need to hear from real people with real experiences.
“Kids with a difficult background need to have a voice and we listen to them.
“My message to them is to be kind, to have courage and to follow their dreams.”
Soraya began delivering the sessions in Cardiff in December and is supported by a core team of volunteers – Media and Communications Specialist Sue Vincent-Jones; Jane Oeppen, a teacher; Elinor Jenkins a mental health nurse; and police officer Seline Ludgison.
Energetic Communications Specialist Sue is a qualified journalist and editor now working in Welsh Government. She is also the well-known Co-Chair of the award-winning PRISM – one of the most successful Staff Networks in the UK. The mum of Chelsea (23) and Harry (15) is also a Stonewall Role Model and regularly speaks publicly about her LGBT lived-in experience. She has been nominated, and won, numerous Awards for her tireless work in the field of diversity and inclusion. An active member of the both the professional Wales, and UK Queer scene, Sue is also very much involved in the local community. She uses her press and PR skills to support a number of local individualS and charities who strive to make that crucial difference.
Positive Primary school teacher Jane Oeppen is a crucial member of the team. Jane, supported by her partner James and two daughters Emily (16) and Daisy (10), has been with Soraya since the beginning and has travelled all over the world promoting and supporting #theglovesareon.
Calm Elinor Jenkins is a mental health nurse who specialises in eating disorders she uses her vast experience and skills to support Soraya and push forward the initiative. She is married to Jamie and has three children, twenty year old Oliver and teenagers Emily (19) and Isabelle (18).
Popular police officer Seline Ludvigsen is the final member of the core team. She is both a friend and a cousin to Soraya. Seline, her partner Dave, her two sons Robert and Travell plus the wider family have always been totally supportive of #theglovesareon.
Read more about our #theglovesareon global campaign below:
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Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”
Mrs SVJ, Barry’s Boldest Blogger, can be contacted here.