More than 140 boxes of smiles were given out in Bognor Regis on Sunday as a group of teens aimed to harness the power of a smile.
The 16 and 17 year olds gave out the boxes as part of their National Citizen Service (NCS) – a country-wide programme which helps young adults build their confidence, mix with different social groups and inspire real change through local community-based action projects.
Each box contained a different treat inside and, once people got over their surprise or suspicions, they really were happy to receive one.
NCS in Arun and Chichester is delivered by West Sussex County Council and helps young adults to gain employment and improve their career prospects.
One of the participants Dilaxiha Rajendran said: “It’s been very successful and I think personally I’m really glad I have done this social action project because I can see how many people need that smile.
“We went into a charity shop to give one to the volunteers and they said they really needed it and it made their day. I just hope that it kind of teaches people that you can give out a smile and kindness doesn’t cost.”
Before taking part in this latest social action project, the group also came together on the Isle of Wight for the adventure and discovery phases of NCS.
As well as managing their own lunch budget, self-reflection tasks and profiling the community, the teams also tested their hands at axe throwing, body boarding, climbing, archery and team challenges.
Stephen Hillier, County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The activities may have just looked like fun but they took the teenagers out of their comfort zones and the groups were also given increased responsibility and independence throughout the week.
“NCS is a fantastic programme which really does help teenagers stand out from the crowd when making job applications.”
This year has also seen an increase in international students taking part linked with Chichester College including the first ever student from the Falkland Islands to take part in NCS across the country.
Andrew Green, Executive Principal at Chichester College, said: “It is great to see so many Chichester College students taking part in NCS, especially our international students.
“It is a wonderful way for them to get involved in community projects locally, which is really important and gives them a rounded experience while they are studying here with us.
“The students involved enjoyed the projects, and we saw how much it helped them grow in confidence. It was a fantastic experience.”
There is still space available for the NCS summer programme 2018.