A Sheffield teenager who turned his back on a life of youth nuisance to raise £15, 000 for charity is urging other youngsters to follow his path.
Lewis Pask, aged 19, was expelled from school, left with no qualifications and readily admits he was a young tearaway growing up on the Manor Estate.
But after realising he must make drastic lifestyle changes, he set his sights on raising money for charity.
He and his friends set up the Jazzytastic charity fundraising team in memory of their friend, tragic hit-and-run victim Jasmyn Chan, who died aged just 14 when she was hit by a car in May 2014.
The charity cause has raised thousands of pounds for the Little Princess Trust, which provides real hair wigs to children suffering hair loss during cancer treatment, as Jasmyn had cut off her locks for the cause shortly before her death.
Lewis’s remarkable journey from teen rogue to big-hearted community fundraiser featured in a short film made by youth charity Fixers and was aired on ITV in September.
He is now working with the charity to launch a campaign urging other young people who may be going down the wrong path to change their ways and follow in his footsteps.
Lewis, who now lives in Norfolk Park, said: “Growing up was very tough. I used to get in a lot of trouble. I was drinking, fighting, setting fires.
“I knew I had to start taking a good path in life instead of going down a bad one, so I started helping other people out and putting people first.
“Instead of getting up to no good, I throw myself into charity work and try to make a difference to the community. I’d say I’ve raised about £15,000 so far.“
He added: “I see a lot of other young people hanging around the streets and getting up to no good. My message to them is to get out of the house, help the community out and put something back into it.”
Roo Mahid from Voluntary Action Sheffield is supporting Lewis’s campaign.
He said: “Young people who are not engaged in any activity, in training, in education, will lose confidence in terms of what they can and can’t do.
“When they get engaged in volunteering and they see the difference they’re making, they themselves change in the process, and they arrive in a new place in their life.”
Lewis’s proud mum Michelle Booth has seen exactly this sort of change in her own son.
She said: “He went from being a nightmare to someone with a big heart and doing anything that he could for anybody.”
Fixers provides young people with resources to help them campaign on issues they care about. Visit www.fixers.org.uk