What images first come to your mind when you think of young people in your own community? Do you think of positivity & success? Let me help you here. Is your community recognising the successes & contributions of young people & individuals? Still unsure? Read on………

The achievements of young people are often overlooked by society, community groups and those who play a vital part in shaping and developing young people who have skills, talent and potential. The media often encapsulate the issues that young people may present, rather than focus on, what value young people are bringing to their community. The emphasis of recognition, hard work, achievement, credibility and ambition is very easily lost in our discussions and social awareness on what is going on around us.

Celebrating Youth Excellence is an annual event, aimed at recognising the talent, hard work, perseverance, contribution and achievements of young people, individuals and organisations in the West Midlands. The charity was set up in 2008 to honour and celebrate the successes that exist in our local community.

The annual event is organised and directed by Poet, Author and Young Entrepreneur – Talisha Johnson. Talisha is young lady, with impeccable talent and self-drive. She is very active in the local community & has formed and established several community initiatives. Talisha strives to deliver excellence as part of her personal drive and business acumen and has worked hard to establish community presence and build awareness of ‘Youth Excellence’ within the community. Talisha has been heavily involved with this initiative for 5 years now.

The charity was originally founded Councillor, Author & Poet – Esha Johnson (Talisha’s mother) in 2008, as part of Esha’s vision for promoting the growth and development of young people. Esha ‘passed on the baton’ to Talisha in 2010, equipping her with on-going support and plenty of encouragement. Talisha continues to work hard locally to establish the charity ethos further, in turn working with a team of young people to deliver positive outcomes.

This year’s Youth Excellence Annual Award Event took place on Saturday 14th September at the Holiday Inn in Birmingham. It was a spectacular evening, honouring the outstanding achievements of individuals who are not only exceeding, but are making positive changes to the lives of others.

Elegance, panache combined with a remarkable & beautiful refined ambience is what Saturday night was about. This was a black tie event, attended by an array of professionals, organisations, dignitaries, community groups & individuals all coming together to acknowledge & applaud individual accomplishments. What was lovely to see was the high level of professionalism from the beginning of the event, right until the end. It was amazing to see so many young people enjoying themselves, showcasing their talent and being honoured throughout the night.

Key highlights of the night included entertainment from some of Birmingham’s very talented young people. Local singing artists – Nadine Daniel & Vibs Bhatia entertained the crowd with beautiful singing. An original composition of Poetry was performed by Poet – Jade Richards. The event was hosted by the one & only ‘Smash’

Smash Entertainer  -Host

Smash Entertainer -Host

Community speeches were given by Justice Williams – Multi award winning social entrepreneur & MBE & Wassem Zaffer –Labour Councillor & MBE. Other speeches were given by Youth Excellence Award Winner 2012 – Alisha Harris, Chanel Lee Smile Award Winner 2012 – Ellison Porter, & Joel Blake – Award winning entrepreneur. All speeches were inspiring, uplifting and motivational.

Ellison Porter  -  The Chanel Lee Smile Award Winner 2012

Ellison Porter –
The Chanel Lee Smile Award Winner 2012

Paulette Hamilton - Councillor for Birmingham

Paulette Hamilton – Councillor for Birmingham


Organisation of Excellence – The Challenge Network
Youth Award Art – Aaliyah J Allen
Academic Award – Daniel Stone
The Good Samaritan Award – Amy Kirkham
Endurance Award – Jewel Henry
Sportsmanship Award – Joel Stevenson
Entrepreneurial Award – Alexandria Robinson-Sutherland
Parent of Excellence Award – Minto & Neera Kohli

Aliyah J Allen Arts Award Winner 2013

Aliyah J Allen
Arts Award Winner 2013

The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation would like to take the time to acknowledge both winners and nominees for 2013. Congratulations to nominee’s for Endurance Award and Good Samaritan Award – Tia Perkins. Tia has worked tirelessly supporting people in her local community.

Tia Perkins Good Samaritan Award Nominee Endurance Award Nominee

Tia Perkins
Good Samaritan Award Nominee
Endurance Award Nominee

Taylor & Tia

Taylor & Tia

Other nominee’s included Girls UK, a group of girls from High Clare School who have assisted the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation & have also assisted with fundraising initiatives etc. – Special thanks to Gavir, Antonia and Danielle, who have recently raised £575.36 for the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation. Further congratulations to Marcel Rodney -Arts Award nominee. Marcel has made numerous contributions in artistic form in his community and continues to work hard to build his portfolio of art designs.

Marcel Rodney Arts Award Nominee

Marcel Rodney
Arts Award Nominee

The Chanel Lee Smile foundation would like to especially acknowledge, ‘The Chanel Lee Smile Award winner for 2013’ -Rhys McCollin; Reece has made outstanding contribution to assist with work in his community and his local church. We congratulate Rhys on this special achievement.

Chanel Lee Smile Award Winner 2013 Rhys McCollin

Chanel Lee Smile Award Winner 2013 Rhys McCollin

Finally, The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation would like to take this special opportunity to thank Talisha and her team for a wonderful evening & for the hard work and dedication in recognising the talent of young people in the city of Birmingham. We look forward to next year’s event with joy & anticipation.

For further information on Celebrating Youth Excellence visit

Deborah Lee

A personal ‘Thank You’ from Deborah Lee – Director of The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation

Zeina and Dom final

I would like to say a personal ‘Thank you’ to all contributors of Yellow Smile Day 2013, members of the community, family, close friends of Chanel and Birmingham City Council for honouring our request to hold this special event in the city of Birmingham.

Yellow Smile Day was a big success this year. To see Chanel’s vision slowly unfolding has been an amazing experience in my journey of grief. I have to express my heartfelt thanks to the community for all the personal support and commitment given and for embracing the beautiful memories of Chanel and her vision for change in the world through The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation.

A number of Yellow Smile Day celebrations took place across the city of Birmingham and the UK this year, it is lovely to see so many people supporting the vision that Chanel spoke about on the 1st October 2011. We want Yellow Smile Day to be a national day of celebrating the arts across the world and we are still working on plans to put plans in place around this.

This year’s main celebrations took place in the heart of Birmingham. Yellow Smile Day celebrations included celebrations of various artistic expressions from some of Birmingham’s finest and extremely talented artiste’s: Natty Josiah, Naomi Parchment, Smash Entertainz, and Belinda Kae. We were joined by young entrepreneurs & motivational speakers Joel Blake, Talisha Johnson and Chanel Lee Smile Foundation Award Winner 2012 – Ellison Porter. The event was hosted by Chanel’s two cousins – Zeina Russell,Dominee Easy and Smash Entertainz.

Other contributors this year included the very talented young artist Marcel Rodney who was inspired to do a featured drawing of Chanel for Yellow Smile Day and fashion mogul, Shara Johnson highlighting her exclusive fashion Design and sharing her journey of achievement. As part of the Yellow Smile Day celebrations this year we interviewed Birmingham’s very own Errol Lawson who has been actively involved in mentoring young people and leaders across the West Midlands.

I am blown away with the talent in the city of Birmingham and wish to thank all the above contributors for sharing your journey’s, talent and heart to pursue your own dreams. What we sometimes will never know are the lives that are impacted through the experiences, talents and dreams that we share along the way. Thank you all for making collective changes to the lives and hearts of our community.

Other celebrations took place via the social media platforms. I have received countless communications from individuals, schools, colleges and community organisations who were also involved in Yellow Smile Day celebrations. It is meaningful to see such uniformity and love shown for Chanel, her dreams and vision on this special day. Please send your pictures or blog to us at

The CLSF foundation continues to grow and we are excited to move forward. We have been actively looking at ways to develop the foundation this year and we now have in place an operational plan, guiding us one step closer towards the principles for the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation. We want to take this time to thank all those who have made personal and professional contributions throughout 2012/2013 to the development of the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation. Our plans for growth are steady, but we move forward proactively at each stage.


The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation was founded on 27th October 2011

The CLSF Web site was launched in Jan 2012

The very first ‘Yellow Smile Day’ was held on 22nd May 2012

The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation was officially registered as a charity on 21 May 2012

The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation has established Social media presence ensuring the message and vision of the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation is extended across various platforms. Over 9,000 followers have visited the website nearly 200 Tweeter followers and 562 Facebook followers are receiving updates on the work of the CLSF. We are determined and absolute in our mission to bring about change in the world.

The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation has been reached in over 8 different countries and 15 demographical UK locations

In summary
 The CLSF aims to build positive working partnerships with public, organisations in promoting the work and vision of the foundation.
 The CLSF has listened to the views of young people as part of The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation launch and will use this to inform our practice in moving forward
 The CLSF now has a clear mission statement which will inform our direction in moving forward positivity and proactively.
 The CLSF has established links with organisations with the aim of developing positive partnerships.
• The CLSF has received positive feedback about the foundation from customer feedback testimonials and tweeter update.
• The CLSF is keen to grow the foundation organically ensuring we are sound in our principles. This may take time, but we intend to do our best.
• The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation is 100% committed to meeting its aims and honours the dreams of Chanel Lee.

We ask for your continual support in helping us to change the world that we live in.

Deborah Lee xx

Youth 4 Excellence awards 2012 @y4excellence #CYE2012

On the 27th October 2012, exactly one year since we laid Chanel-Lee to rest, we attended the 4th annual youth 4th excellence awards for 2012. This splendid event took place at the prestigious Garden Suite at the Botanical Gardens, Birmingham.

The event saw a number of young people celebrated for their excellent and inspiring achievements. Award winners included Serena and Stephen McCormack from Masters Touch, a youth drama organisation who won the award for youth organisation of excellence.

Our very own Deborah Lee was awarded an award for Parent of Excellence for her dedication to honouring the dreams and ambitions of the her daughter through the Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation.

Nina King of Ashanti Netball was also awarded an award for parenting excellence for her work with young female netball players.

The evening then proceeded to award youth of excellence in a variety of categories. Winners were as follows:

Rem Conway won the arts award for his passion for the arts and culture.

Alisha Harris won the Academic achievement and positive attitude towards learning Alicia also won youth of excellence of the year award Sunjay Kholi won the The Good Samaritan Award for demonstrating a passion for helping others in the community.

Jak Uddin won the entrepreneurial award for Myles Durrant-Sutherland won the sportsmanship award for demonstrating his passion for and achieving in sports and athletics.

Olivia Hinds won the Endurance award for showing strength of character, self motivation and courage in the face of difficult situations.

And the very first Chanel-lee Smile award was presented to Ellison Porter. This award, endorsed by the foundation is presented to young person who has demonstrated a sense of compassion and empathy towards others in the community through acts of kindness, peer support and mentorship. Congratulations to you Ellison.

The night was hosted by Ashley Hesson aka Smash who kept the audience entertained with his cheeky antics.

We were also treated to entertainment from very talented young artists Slim Blue, Melika Queely, Pressurize, Pierre Da Silver and Natty Joshia.

The Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation would like to commends the work of Talisha & Esha Johnson and their team for their work which profiles and highlights the positivity of young people across the city. We congratulate you and salute your fantastic work and we look forward to attending in 2013.






Smile Foundation Updates

Hi Everyone,

We thought it was time to post an official update on the Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation blog we have been quiet since Yellow Smile Day and some fantastic events took place.

All three of Chanel-Lee’s Schools participated in Yellow Smile Day. Whitecrest Primary School held an assembly featuring musical entertainment from Monique who is also happens to be a previous pupil at Whitecrest school. The Sandwell Chronicle published a piece on the activities that took place at Whitecrest.


Highclare, Chanel-Lee’s secondary school also marked the day with a release of 17 Yellow Balloons.

Arthur Terry School also acknowledged the day despite their busy exam schedules.

An evening event also took place at the Midlands Art Centre in Cannon Hill Park to commemorate Chanel-Lee’s Birthday. The event was an emotionally charged variety show of artistic entertainment where family and friends were invited to gather and share their special memories for Yellow Smile Day. The highlight of the event was the release of our new music video ‘There is No Way To Say Goodbye,’ by Deborah Lee, sung by a collaboration of various artists and produced by GL Media. This music video and song is now available to be purchased from iTunes.  Please support by downloading the track  as all funds proceed to the cause of the Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation.

The Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation is now working towards officially launching on 28th July 2012, where we will be unveiling our plans in further detail. Stay tuned for further updates and developments.

Remembering Chanel – Poem by Chimango Kankwamba


More than just an ordinary human she was the greatest
Brightest star in the constellation
Her laugh and smile never lost in translation. That’s no word of a lie

See she was not just a friend more like blood relation
Close to my heart no segregation
She aimed for the stars


She was moving on up … I guess you could say like positive correlation
Beacon of beauty – God’s creation
She had a voice of an angel – true sensation
The brightest star around – my motivation
She was your number one fan – no condemnation
She had her heart set on her future – true dedication

Her beauty astounding
Her elegance and grace truly compounding
My memories of you will forever remain
My life forever changed by our sleeping beauty

A red rose by character that’s my illustration
She served, she was humble, smart and witty – my aspiration
Dreaming of a family of her own, a husband a home

More than just a friend, She was a daughter
Her personality so refreshing like a drink of water
Love and happiness flowed through her veins
Now that you’re gone things will never be the same
Come hell or high water
You’d find her at the alter blowing the devil out of the water
With her 2 foot skank

A heart of praise and worship
A driven girl, mind of entrepreneurship
What you have to understand is the legacy
The legacy of a girl who changed the lives of so many
Spitting her bars like say your not ready
Living a day without you hurts so much already
When I look back at the picture I have
You looked so beautiful and peaceful like a dove
We embarked on the journey called life together

As I look up in the sky in fascination
I see the most beautiful figuration
There will never be a suitable explanation
Of how much you meant to us.

*image of the yellow quill taken from