Calvin Nilsen-Barnes is a finalist in the Sunday Mail’s Young Scot Awards 2016. He was nominated for the ‘Young Hero’ category by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Calvin, 19 of Troon, is studying Connect to Learning at College’s Ayr Campus. After suffering a brain haemorrhage at two weeks old he was left with severe learning disabilities. He faces many challenges day to day but takes them in his stride and always with a smile. He is thriving at college and really enjoys his course. He said “I have learned lots at college. I like art, drama, personal health and the projects such as ‘American Diner’. I have met many friends and hope to go on to the Connect to Enterprise course next year.”
Early last year Calvin wrote to the First Minister asking to meet her, soon afterwards he was invited to Holyrood. Nicola Sturgeon said, “It was a pleasure to meet Calvin when he came to visit me in parliament. It was great to chat to him when he came to my office and his enthusiasm for everything he tackles in his life is an inspiration”.
Asked to nominate her ‘Young Scot’ the First Minister did not hesitate in choosing Calvin commenting, “The Sunday Mail do great work in recognising Scotland’s young people through these awards so I’m sure Calvin will face stiff competition but he wins my nomination.”
Calvin’s mum, Kirsteen said, “Calvin is everybody’s ray of sunshine. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love him. He has battled his whole life and what he has achieved what he has is a miracle. Just meeting the First Minister was amazing for him. Hearing she has nominated him for an award has put him on cloud nine. Calvin has limited speech but that hasn’t stopped him wanting to learn. He loved school and loves college. I couldn’t be prouder of him”
Calvin first came to college through a part-time transition programme with Southcraigs School, taking classes in woodwork and healthy lifestyles. Now on Connect to Learning he is developing his core skills such as numeracy, communication, problem solving and IT. These skills are embedded into classes which are interactive and student led. Groups also go on various outings to give them real life experiences.
Doreen Tait, Lecturer, said, “Many of our students first attend through the schools transition programme - it is a great way to introduce them to the College environment. Deciding to come to College is a big step for anyone. This programme makes the process much less daunting for those with learning difficulties. It enables people to familiarise themselves with the College – getting to know their way around and getting to meet staff. Calvin is a pleasure to teach and everyone at the College is routing for him”.
Calvin will join fellow Ayrshire College student Natasha Kerr of Kilmarnock, who has been shortlisted for the ‘Volunteering’ category, at the prestigious Young Scot Awards Ceremony at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.