Former Baldragon Academy pupil Jay Hunter has overcome bullying and depression to be recognised for his work mentoring younger pupils experiencing similar difficulties.
Parents Kenneth and Christine say they are “overwhelmed” by the changes to their 18-year-old son who was once experiencing severe low points in his life following family bereavements and school bullying.
His kindness towards helping others saw him awarded the Lord Provost McManus Prize in Citizenship after he volunteered with CLD Youth Work before creating a lasting legacy for how the Kirkton school supports pupils being bullied.
Jay, who is now studying sound engineering, says he hopes the accolade can inspire younger pupils not to give up hope.
I used to think I wasn’t capable or worthy of doing anything.”
He said: “I used to think I wasn’t capable or worthy of doing anything. I was in and out of school in S4 dealing with a lot of mental health problems.
“I have overcome – and am still trying to overcome – a lot and winning this award will only give people in the same boat as me some hope.
“It’s shown that even though things can be really bad they can get better.”
In his final year of school Jay was voted school captain and introduced an anti-bullying committee, pupil council, young carers and a pupil voice outreach.
“I was always the quiet kid growing up. I never really opened my mouth to speak,” he said. “Then when I got the opportunity to be head boy I didn’t believe in myself and didn’t think people would choose me.
“When I was picked I knew this was my opportunity to make something of myself and make a change by putting those groups in place.
“I wanted to try and make sure people knew they had somewhere to go when things were bad.”
In a society where young men’s mental health is at an all-time low, we need more young courageous men like Jay who are not afraid to stand up and speak out.”
Hugh McAninch, Baldragon Academy head teacher
While the Covid-19 pandemic halted the school groups, Jay was in school during lockdown helping pupils in the flexible learning area overcome bullying and other personal issues by being a sounding board for their worries.
However Jay says he will never forget what Baldragon teachers such as acting deputy head teacher Haley Ross did for him when he was at his lowest point.
“Despite what I thought of myself they always saw the best in me”, he said. “They went above and beyond for me and would sit me down on the days where I was struggling and just let me talk it out.”
Nominees for the city-wide award won by Jay must have demonstrated a substantial contribution to good citizenship in their school through areas such as leadership and conduct.
Hugh McAninch, head teacher at Baldragon, said: “The young man who was at times in a very distressed place has learned to reach out and is now using this to his advantage in supporting others.
“In a society where young men’s mental health is at an all-time low, we need more young courageous men like Jay who are not afraid to stand up and speak out and help this shift that is needed.”