Work by a pupil at Thornhill Park School in Sunderland has been featured in a national collection of poetry by young people.

Courtney, 16, who attends the school run by the North East Autism Society in Emsworth, wrote the poem for a contest held by Young Writers, which formed in 1991 to share the work of young poets.

Courtney’s poem was written for the ‘This Is Me, I Am’ competition, which aimed to inspire young people aged 11-18 to write poems about themselves, their feelings, ambitions, and how they challenge other peoples’ assumptions of them.

Poems from young people around the country were collected and published in a book also titled ‘This Is Me’.

Courtney said seeing her work published in a book for the first time, “was really weird.”

She added: “I’ve never done anything like that. It was good.”

Janine Henry, Sixth Form Teacher at Thornhill Park School, helped organise the pupils’ entries for the contest, after hearing about the competitions on the radio.

As school council lead at the time, Janine was able to speak to pupils across all classes and see who was most engaged by the contest.

Janine said: “At the time Courtney wasn’t in my class, but I know she hadn’t been here very long and her confidence was a little bit low.

“She was just settling in and finding her feet here, so it was amazing to read those words, of how she thought other people saw her and thought of her in the world we live in really.”

Courtney’s poem covers a range of topics, from how others see her, to her feelings, family, and her own identity at the centre of it all.

Janine said: “Any way for a pupil to show confidence in their own work is huge, and then for them to see it in print is amazing.”

“It was a bit of ‘this is me, so please yourselves how you think,’ really, which is good. It’s good self-advocacy and good for self-esteem to be proud of who you are,” Janine added.

This is me…
by Courtney

I am Courtney and this is me!
I am quite like the British weather.
As nobody knows what’s going to come out of my mouth!
Next whether it’s good or bad!
More than likely something funny.
My purpose in life?
Make people laugh and smile.
I’m mostly smiley bubbly.
People assume I’m always happy.
Behind that smile is often a frown.
I’m not the same as others on the outside.
I promise I am the same as others on the inside.
Same feelings.
I feel down.
I feel sad.
I feel tired.
I feel scared.
I cry.
Being me is tiring.
My life can be hard.
My biggest supporter; my Mam.
She tells me I’m amazing.
Others are special too.
So, I defend myself.
I don’t let anyone get to me.
I too have my opinions.
I’m always me.
I won’t stop being me.
My motto in life…
Keep going.
Keep being me.
Do what I want, not what others want.
No hiding in the shadow of pretense.
I am enough and I am worth it.
Because this is me!