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8 July, 2014

Schoolchildren show the way to build peaceful communities

Primary school children from across Birmingham are being awarded for leading positive change in their communities, at Citizenship Foundation's Go-Givers Make A Difference Challenge celebration at The Giant Screen Millennium Point today.

Over 250 children from 19 schools will be awarded for a wide range of child-led projects, tackling issues such as gangs, litter, wheelchair access and child poverty.


Making the awards are: Councillor Shafique Shah, Lord Mayor of Birmingham; Anita Bhalla OBE, Deputising for the Lord Lieutenant, journalist and chair of Creative City Partnerships; Professor Peter Lutzeier, Vice-Chancellor & Principal of Newman College; Helga Edstrom, for the Office for Civil Society at The Cabinet Office;  Councillor Guy Roberts; Dawn Beaumont, New Library of Birmingham.


Despite schools being in the news for ‘Trojan Horse’ fears of extremism, this event shows that children have what it takes to build a better future; that all they need is the opportunity to take the lead in identifying, researching and addressing a cause that they care about, working together, regardless of background.


One group, year six children at Chandos Primary School in Highgate, is working with local police to address gang activitythere, and has written a rap to share with other primary and secondary schools.


'This project means a great deal to the children in this group, many of whom have been affected by gang culture’ says their teacher, Helen Kynaston.


‘Living a life free from fear and being able to walk the streets safely is important as they grow older and gain more independence. The children hope, by spreading their message to local schools through their rap video, they will have an impact on gang culture in their community.'


'We should feel safe to go to the park and have fun with our friends. My brother got murdered by two gang members so people like me will feel safe again in the area,' says one pupil.


'I have a cousin who nearly lost his life because of a gang. He was stabbed four times in the back, so this means a lot to me. I don't want my children to grow up in a gang filled area like Highgate like I did,' says Another pupil.


Another group, year five children at St Michaels CofE School in Bartley Green, has made a short film about the problems faced by friends with mobility issues. The children are using it to lobby the council for better wheelchair access for members of the community at their local library.


Andy Thornton, Citizenship Foundation Chief Executive, says:


‘We're very proud of how these pupils have discovered a common mind and taken action to make their communities a better place. It's an inspiration for us all.’


Go-Givers’ Make A Difference Challenge gives children confidence to take action on issues that really matter to them. It is happening in Berkshire, Birmingham, Durham, Dorset, Kent, Leeds, London and Norfolk.


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