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Schoolboy turns wasteland into playground

COMMUNITY CHAMPION: Sachen Whyte, 11, collects his award from the mayor for his dedication

AN 11-YEAR-OLD boy has achieved his dream of turning a dumping ground into a play garden for young people thanks to his own tenacity.

Sachen Whyte, from south London got the idea to create a garden during last year’s General Election when he was asked by politicians what he would like to see in his neighbourhood.

It inspired the primary school pupil to find a neglected plot of land and, without any help from adults, apply for a £5,000 grant to help fund its makeover.

Out of the blue, his anxious mother, Heather Madurai, was summoned to Lewisham Council where she first discovered - with relief then pride - what her son had been up to.

The schoolboy, who was honoured twice at Lewisham Council’s Make a Difference Awards, said: "It was a waste of space filled with rubbish and dead trees just lying on the ground. I thought we could turn it into a garden area for all the children to play in."

His mother helped him fill in a proper application and they created a team, including Sachen’s friend Ashley McClean, to go door-to-door winning support for the scheme.

After successfully securing the £5,000 grant, the McMillan Community Garden was officially opened on Saturday, June 25, and will be used as a playground as well as for parties and BBQs.

His mother, who said the tenacious 11-year-old had even contacted the White House to invite the Obamas to his garden opening, said: “As parents, we are ecstatic and so proud of what he has achieved at such a young age. He has a good sense of what is wrong and right, is confident with lots of opinions and doesn’t care what people think about him.

"We have laid a foundation that it is good to work hard, but now he has seen for himself what he can achieve. This has now opened up so many doors for him and we hope he takes these lessons with him to secondary school where it can be hard for a young, black boy to not fall in with the wrong crowd especially in the area where we live."

The young visionary, who dreams of studying at top US university Harvard, is planning on applying for a further grant to complete his labour of love.

"I now want to get some murals on the wall, some goal posts so we can play football and some bird boxes to let the nature come through," Sachen added.

He has also been invited to the House of Lords for a special lunch on July 14 thanks to his efforts.

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