Catherine Rushworth and her daughter, Ellie, 14. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
WIGHT LIVINGINSPIRING, caring and considerate young people, who put the needs of their family before their own, show exactly why we should have faith in the younger generation.
When young people hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, the 'youth of today’ are often tarred with the same brush.
But if anyone needed a reminder of how amazing children can be, then they should look no further than those involved in the IW Young Carers project, one of the chosen charities in the County Press and IW Radio-organised Charity Challenge 2012.
Run from YMCA Winchester House, Shanklin, the IW Young Carers project provides support to people under the age of 18, who care for a family member.
There are more than 180 registered young carers on the IW and the services available to them through the project include drop-in sessions, one-to-one support and training and activity opportunities.
Fourteen-year-old Ellie Rushworth, of Wellington Square, Yarmouth, who for the last four years has helped her parents, Richard and Catherine, care for her brother, Olly, 12, is one of the young carers to benefit from the project.
Olly has Asperger’s syndrome and requires round-the-clock care and Ellie has sacrificed her studies and her social life to help look after him.
Christ the King College pupil Ellie, regularly prepares Olly’s breakfast, goes to school, then comes straight home to take over from her exhausted mum.
She cooks, cleans and devotes her time to keeping Olly amused — he spends hours watching her bake his favourite cakes and gingerbread men — and she has such a special bond with him, he often only responds to her when he is being disruptive.
She has given up after-school clubs to get home quicker and on Christmas Day she cooked the dinner with her dad and nan because she knew her mum needed a break.
However, since getting involved with the IW Young Carers about two years ago, Ellie has got her independence back and her grades, which had previously suffered, have improved.
She said: "I used to feel so alone because people did not understand what my home life was like.
"I would have some time off school because I was so tired from looking after Olly and my friends thought I was skiving.
"Since joining the IW Young Carers I have made some amazing friends and if I am feeling down they know why.
"But I’ll never stop worrying about Olly because I love him to bits."
Andy Rea, 16, of Carter Avenue, Shanklin, has also benefited from being involved with the IW Young Carers project.
For the last five years, Andy has been caring for his mum, Carron, who has osteoporosis and diabetes.
As single mum Carron was poorly when Andy was a child, he lived with his granddad until he was old enough to return home to look after her.
As Carron’s carer, Andy monitors her blood sugar levels and carries out everyday tasks like cooking and getting the shopping.
Like Ellie, Andy found it tough going to school because the people around him did not know what it was like to be a young carer.
However, since the project got involved, Andy’s confidence has grown and he is now an IW youth councillor, plus he chairs a committee which discusses activities for young carers.
Andy said: "Before the young carers came along, it was hard because I had no-one to talk to.
"Now we all come together, we can share our experiences and offer a shoulder to cry on but we also have lots of fun."
Andy, who hopes to start an apprenticeship in patisserie and confectionery, said one of the highlights of the project was the annual Young Carers Festival at Fairthorne Manor, Botley, where more than 1,000 young carers come together to enjoy live music.
"It’s brilliant," he said.
"I am already looking forward to this year’s festival in June."
Heidi Kurowska, who manages the IW Young Carers project, said there were many positive reasons for being a young carer.
"Firstly, the carers love their families very much," Heidi said.
"Caring for someone you love can be very rewarding but we just have to make sure the care is appropriate for everyone.
"But I am privileged to work with the youngsters, they are wonderful children and their parents are very proud of them."
Keith and Sue Broadley-Darby, of Binstead Road, Ryde, are two very proud parents.
Keith, 43, has had two strokes, six heart attacks, two cardiac arrests and he has Type 2 diabetes and arthritis in most of his joints.
He also has a defibrillator and a pacemaker in his chest.
Keith’s care is managed by Sue and the couple’s two daughters, Sophie-Rose, 15, and Holly-May, 12, and it has become second nature for the Medina College students to put his needs ahead of their own. Keith said: "I feel very lucky to have such wonderful children.
"If I have a bad turn, they know what medication I need and if I have a fit, they know how to deal with it. No matter how they are feeling, they put me first and I am so grateful for that.
"However, as they are looking after me, they can’t be children at home, which is why the IW Young Carers project is so brilliant, because it allows them to do things young people like to do."
Heidi paid tribute to the team of ten volunteers who help to run the project.
"They are wonderful and if it wasn’t for them, there would be no IW Young Carers, we could not do it without them."
Anyone who wants to contact the IW Young Carers project can contact Heidi on 861071 or e-mail iowyoung
• THE IW Young Carers is one of the charities to benefit from the Charity Challenge 2012.
The first fundraising event is a bowlathon at Ryde Superbowl next Friday, February 10.