ONE of Blackburn Youth Zone’s teen leaders has been praised for his dedication to helping others.

Eighteen-year-old Jack Riley, from Darwen, has been a regular member of the £6 million Youth Zone, in Jubilee Street, since just after it opened.

And he was recently successful in his application to become a Young Leader, a training programme in which he has thrived, staff said.

Young Leader programme manager, Leigh Culverwell, said: “Jack has turned into a young man. He shows a lot of qualities that a role model displays; a positive nature and enthusiasm.

“He has shown enormous dedication, training three to four hours a day here to perfect a dance routine as part of a team taking part in an inter-youth zone competition.

“The dance team was made up of a mix of different ages and abilities and two of the dance group have disabilities. Jack really took the time to help them with the routine as they needed extra support.”

The Lancashire Telegraph is campaigning to raise £60,000 to put 100 youngsters through the Young Leaders programme — a developmental six-month-long course designed to encourage leadership qualities and behaviours.

Sporty Jack, one of 16 trainee Young Leaders currently on the course, said: “When I first joined the Youth Zone I used to answer back to staff and be a bit cheeky. But since becoming a young leader that’s changed; I’m more likely to tell others members to behave if they start being cheeky.”

Jack, who is studying IT at Blackburn College, works part-time at his family’s martial arts centre in Darwen.

Since joining the Youth Zone, he has taken up some more diverse interests, especially dance. He said: “I’d never really done any kind of dance before, but the dance teacher here, Fahima, is fantastic and I have learned a lot from her.

“I think my ideal job would be a dance teacher, although I’d never thought of doing that before.

“One of the best parts of being a Young Leader is teaching younger members how to dance.

“Coming to the Youth Zone is good because I can just chill out here, but also get some experience in working with young people, so it’s like a mix of personal time and professional experience.”