Award-winning television presenter Ayo Akinwolere is one of the celebrities who features in a new online initiative aimed at helping young people, aged nine to 19, across South Yorkshire.
The Sheffield Hallam University graduate, who presented the BBC’s flagship children’s television show Blue Peter, is hoping his own story with resonate will young people and inspire them to aim high in the future.
Born in Nigeria, Ayo moved to the UK as a child and was educated in Birmingham. After completing a degree in media studies at the South Yorkshire institute, he became Blue Peter’s first black presenter from 2006 to 2011.
A three-times nominated BAFTA and Royal Television Society award-winning broadcaster, Ayo then made the leap from Blue Peter to be the face of investigative journalism in the West Midlands on the BBC’s Inside Out programme.
He said: "I wish someone told me when I was younger what I’d have to do in order to work in this industry.
"I grew up as a working class Brummie from a family with not much money or connections in the industry. I’ve learnt a lot on this journey and am still learning each day."
Other celebrities include Sheffield-based chef and social entrepreneur Chris Hanson from the Ecclesall based Blend Kitchen - a social enterprise restaurant in the city - whose outreach work includes cook-alongs in Sheffield to help teenagers develop essential skills for leaving home.
While Justin Rowntree, an entrepreneur and owner of Silversmiths, a Yorkshire restaurant which serves up regional cuisine, and Baasit Siddiqui an educator, entrepreneur and Gogglebox star also feature.
The online scheme has been rolled out by the Higher Education Progression Partnership (Hepp), which works with 101 secondary schools and seven colleges and sixth forms across Sheffield City Region to encourage more children, young people and adults to consider higher education opportunities.
The programme entitled HeppFest Reloaded features highlights of HeppFest - a free higher education festival held at the end of last year.
Mike Garnock-Jones, the director for Hepp Director, said: "This exciting online resource showcases the best moments of HeppFest and provides impartial information, advice and guidance to support young people who might not otherwise consider studying a degree at college, university or as part of an apprenticeship."
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