A young woman from Northampton who spent her teens in foster care has been honoured with a special award for her educational achievements.
Naikoru Star, 22, was presented with the Fostering Achievement for Education Award at the Fostering Network’s Fostering Excellence Awards last week (November 17th).
Naikoru was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2009, shortly after turning 16. Until her diagnosis, she was labelled an ‘unruly child’ at school and her homework was torn up because her handwriting was so poor.
It was only when she started college that she was diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD and, thanks to the support of her foster carer, tutors and Northamptonshire County Council’s Leaving Care Service, she was able to access the help she needed and is now in her third year at university.
Naikoru now visits her former foster carer Helma Van Haren at her home to help new foster children settle in and encourage them to work hard at school.
Helma, who nominated Naikoru for the award, said: “She embraced the diagnosis of Asperger’s and ADHD and doesn’t let it stand in her way. She has really blossomed into an adult with an understanding of her uniqueness.”
Cllr Matthew Golby, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for learning and families, said: “This award is well-deserved recognition for the commitment Naikoru has put into her studies, despite her difficulties.
“Research has shown that children in care don’t often perform as well as their peers at school, but Naikoru is testament to the fact that hard work really does pay off. She’s now in her third year of a BSc in Wildlife Conservation at Northampton University and is doing fantastically well. I wish her the very best of luck for the future.”
The annual Fostering Excellence Awards are held to celebrate the achievements of foster carers, children and social workers across the UK, and this year’s ceremony in London was hosted by television star Holly Willoughby and attended by The Duchess of Cambridge.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “Naikoru has shown through her commitment to education that nothing is insurmountable. The support that she has received from her former foster carer and her university have undoubtedly been a great help along the way.”