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Bury St Edmunds columnist Michael Apichella asks What's wrong with kids today? His answer: Nothing at all!

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It’s hard to imagine that once upon a time Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Diss,and other East-Anglian towns were economically booming places. Kids literally walked out of the front door of their schools with basic qualifications in hand and within days they found apprenticeships or jobs, many keeping them for life.

Today, however, unemployment among youths in our area is common. In fact, it’s on the increase across the whole of the East of England new figures reveal. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a steady growth in unemployment here since the last measurement. And it appears this trend is set to continue.

Of course, if you were to listen to some people, the problem isn’t the economy, it’s just that today’s youths are mostly sedentary, self-absorbed moochers, moving about merely to reach the nearest plate of nachos and cheese, PlayStation, or mobile phone shop. Worse, these kids have no sense of community, or so received wisdom would have us all believe.

Jacob Howe with his best friend Ryan King
Jacob Howe with his best friend Ryan King

Well, you can believe that if you like. But if you do, you’d be wrong. Although local kids may be unemployed when they leave school, most are busy looking for ways to use their skills to help themselves or others. Let me explain.

According to this paper, a Bury St Edmunds schoolboy has organised a campaign to raise money for his friend who has had to have surgery to have half of his lung removed.

Nine-year-old Jacob Howe, of Brockesby Walk, was motivated to set up a fund-raising web page after his best friend, Ryan King, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, was rushed to hospital and forced to miss weeks of school.

Jacob’s mum Danielle, who helped him set up the page, said Jacob was really upset when he heard about Ryan’s operation, and he decided this was a good way to help his pal.

According to the Newmarket Journal, Chloe Knott, 15, who lives in Selwyn Close, Soham, is among a group of college pupils who hope to take part in a World Challenge trip to Borneo this month. They will help with building a school and safeguarding baby turtles from predators, and take part in a jungle trek where they hope to see orangutans.

But in order to fulfil the dream, Chloe must use her own initiative to raise £3,500 to pay for her place on the trip. “It does seem a massive challenge but once Chloe sets her mind to something she sees it through”, said her mum, Cathy.

Finally, a Diss youngster was inspired by her grandad’s death to donate her hair to the charity
Little Princess Trust, according to the Diss Express.

Ellie-May was four years old when she was told about how her grandad had died of cancer, said Elly-May’s mum Sophie Bailey. When she spotted a lady in town who had no hair, she decided that she wanted to help. “Ellie-May asked if she had no hair because she had cancer, and I said I wasn’t sure,” said Sophie. “She then said ‘Mummy I want to give her my hair.’ This brought a tear to my eye.”

Three years on, seven-year-old Ellie-May has gone the barber to raise cash for cancer. “I couldn’t explain how proud I am of her. She’s full of heart and love,” said mum-of-two Sophie. She added: “I think she’s excited about the prospect of making another little boy or girl really happy.” The Diss infant-school pupil has raised more than £110 – and Ellie-May cannot wait to do it all over again.

Now, tell me again about how self-absorbed and unmotivated area kids are.