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Student overcomes barriers to win national education award

A dance student from London has been recognised for his work to tackle mental health at a national awards ceremony in London.

Levan Peart, a student at the University of East London, won the award at a prestigious ceremony in the House of Lords in Parliament. Levan is the founder of Blackout Dance Camp (BDC), a social enterprise and community interest company that combats mental and physical health issues through dance education and other wellbeing services.

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Levan, 22, said: “Hearing my name called was an incredible feeling. It was a beautiful moment and a great ceremony. I was genuinely happy to just be in a space full of great like-minded peers, and to win was a huge bonus!”

The award comes only a month after the dance student walked away with the top prize in an incubator pitch competition organised by HSBC.

The Student Social Mobility Awards – organised by social mobility charity upReach – honour students who have succeeded in spite of socio-economic challenges, such as limited professional networks, juggling multiple responsibilities alongside studying, reduced access to careers support and living in areas with low job prospects.

Levan had to overcome a number of barriers early on in life and originally did not have the right qualifications to attend university. Thanks to special foundation course offered by the University of East London, he was able to move from his hometown of Telford in the West Midlands to study dance in the capital.

Levan said: “I hope that winning this award will inspire others to go after their dreams. We have the magic inside of us to pursue our greatest endeavours.”

This year’s awards saw more than 250 undergraduate nominations, from 35 different universities. The winners of the awards were selected by an independent judging panel of 10 leading representatives across the fields of education, business, technology, and the charity sector.

Levan added: “This win means a lot to me as a young artist and entrepreneur. I didn’t think someone like me – from my demographic and origin – would ever enter the House of Lords and take these awards with me!”