STUDENTS have been rewarded for their efforts after raising community awareness about tolerance and disability.

Darlington’s former mayor, Cllr Charles Johnson, has donated £1,000 to Carmel College from his charitable fund after hearing how students get the chance to experience life in a wheelchair.

Three years ago students founded the 1689 Group, named after the first Tolerance Act, to raise awareness among staff and pupils on a diverse range of equality issues including disability.

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The group, led by Callum Ord, Louise Bryson, Jake Todhunter and Michelle Hindson, raised money to buy the Darlington school a wheelchair allowing all year groups the opportunity to spend a day in it to appreciate the issues regular users face.

Darlington’s former mayor and mayoress Charles and Carol Johnson heard about the initiative at the recent Vibe Awards and wanted to support the students’ efforts and help them continue their good work.

SEN specialist teacher trainer Margaret Doyle said: “The students also helped draw up strict guidelines as to the chair’s use and delivered assemblies on other issues including Down's Syndrome, autism, and dyslexia. A number of mums also came in to talk on a range of matters.

“The sessions were very interactive and I have seen the students grow in confidence making the initiative really successful.”

Mrs Johnson said: “We were so impressed with the work they have done and the school is such an important part of the community that we really wanted to help.”

Carmel College principal and chief executive Maura Regan added: “This project is a good example of the caring culture of the college, in which everyone is able to be themselves, whether they are sporty, studious or have a disability.”