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News from City, University of London

Young people from the local community encouraged to demand the impossible

City University London hosts workshops to teach teenagers about political activism
by Sophie

nullA group of 16 to 19 year olds have visited City University London to take part in a series of workshops entitled 'Demand the Impossible'. The first five day course was held during the summer, with a second event exploring social movements and group activism taking place in October.

More than thirty young people from the local area were invited to the events organised by the Critical Education Project which aims to help expand their horizons. During the sessions ideas were explored surrounding capitalism and alternative economic systems; war, peace and American power; race and racism; gender and feminism; the environment and climate change.

Eighteen year old Mamataj Begum was one of those who took part:

"I found the whole week to be empowering, especially because the working with other like-minded individuals really makes you feel more confident in what you're fighting for. It was also quite surprising to see that although we were like-minded we actually had different opinions which made for some heated debates, for example over the question of whether private schools should be banned".

nullStudents heard from experts, seasoned activists, campaigning organisations, university academics and activist groups. They were also engaged in practical workshops which enabled them to develop the strategies and skills for activism and put these in to action.

Grietje Baars, Lecturer in Law at City University London, co-ordinated the event with support from City's Widening Participation Team.

"This is an innovative venture designed to inspire young people from less privileged backgrounds to see that another world is possible. These sessions encourage them to actively debate important issues and try different methods of getting their opinions across. At City, we seek to empower our students in the hope they will take that positivity back to their communities."

The students looked at a number of issues including the situation of young people in urban Britain and America, with a particular focus on the riots that took place in England during 2011. They also had the opportunity to discuss the education system, the environment, gender issues and body image.

On Saturday 19th October a follow-up one-day workshop entitled 'Power in Numbers: Understanding Social Movements' looked at how group action can change society and whether an urban youth movement could be built in Britain today.

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