The young speakers (8 years old and upwards) showed the power of youth as they spoke with impact to the audience of MPs and Lords, community leaders, business people, diplomats and academics….reports Asian Lite News
Dr Prem Sharma and Councillor Shahid Younis organised a Peace conference at Reading School. The message of the conference was, if we want world peace, we need to empower young people to engage and speak out.
“As a young person I demand that you tap the power of youth, putting us at the forefront of global change,” the participants said in one voice.
The young speakers (8 years old and upwards) showed the power of youth as they spoke with impact to the audience of MPs and Lords, community leaders, business people, diplomats and educators. The event saw 49 schoolchildren from eight schools around the country, who made a significant contribution through practical proposals from their workshop and excellent questions for the panel session.
The audience were spellbound as the speakers shared their personal experience of war and refugee life, or described the kind of response that we need to make, both to refugees arriving in the UK and to young people in danger of radicalisation. The children were accompanied by their parents, which sends a powerful message to the world as mothers have a major influence on their children.
Mr. Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, and MP for Reading West, presented certificates to the young people who spoke in the 2018 conference (‘Children’s Voices for Peace’).
A group of leaders suggested thought provoking responses to the children’s presentations.
* Not with violence: “My father did not want his son to pick up a weapon, he wanted me to pick up a pen and make a difference that way,” said a boy who had escaped from Afghanistan.
* Not by turning inwards, to radicalisation or resistance to those in need, but outwards to our neighbours.
* Moving from tolerance of those different from us to acceptance and love.
How will this happen? The schoolchildren met in a special workshop to formulate practical proposals for the whole conference. In the discussion that followed, some of the key outcomes were
– use the power of social media to counter the narratives of hatred and violence, from false preachers, jihadis and radicalised youth. The schools all pledged to continue or begin spreading positive messages through social media.
– focus on life skills in education.
– find ways for people of different backgrounds to talk to each other, for example through social programmes to connect them.
– invite speakers from the conference (young or older) to visit schools and share the message.
– link schools from different backgrounds together.
The conference message was clear: children and young people hold the key to peace. We need to realise their importance and ensure a clear and consistent message in all our schools, so that children and young people are not sucked into hatred or extremism or violence, but become agents of peace.