The National Citizen Service (NCS) worked with 60 teenagers at the Archer Academy in Finchley to give them a crash-course in protesting, fundraising and running an effective social action campaign.
The pilot took place ahead of what is expected to be a globe-spanning climate strike on Friday, when thousands of students will walk out on school to continue the youth response to climate change.
Pupils at Archer Academy took part in workshops on social activism – breaking down what it means to protest, raise awareness and volunteer – before young LGBTQ+ and mental health activist Ellen Jones challenged them to think about the social issues they cared about and what skills they had that could be used to argue their cause.
“You just need to look at the number of powerful youth voices out there now to see what an impact young people can make,” Jones said. “Equipping them with the information on the many ways they can affect change and more importantly the confidence to take their campaigns public is nothing but a positive step forward for our communities.”
The students were then tasked with coming up with a campaign of their own. One group opted to campaign for all plastic to be removed from school dinners; one wanted Barnet Council to install more streetlights to make green spaces safer; and another petitioned the school to end gender-segregated PE lessons.
Today we launched our first Schools Social Action Framework pilot with @ellenjones_ in East Finchley @ArcherAcademy. The students learnt all about social activism and came up with their own campaigns. We hope to roll this out to students in the 6,000 schools within our network. pic.twitter.com/3uODuu4e1K
— NCS Trust (@NCSTrust) September 16, 2019
Pupil Zohar Applebaum-Kahn, 14, said: “We hear all about young people making a difference so it’s great to be given an opportunity to do this in school and learn more about how to make a change.