Woking’s junior manifesto

AS THE country’s leaders reconvene in Parliament after the summer recess, a young Woking girl joined a creative and courageous ‘Junior Cabinet’ to put their views across on how we should tackle the big issues of the day and offer food for thought for the adult decision makers.

The youngster, eight-year-old Hannah Macdonald and a member of Woking’s Stagecoach Performing Arts, said in her manifesto: “I’d make sure there were litter police in place, blowing whistles every time someone dropped their rubbish…I’m back-up eco warrior at school.”

Frank PR - Stage Coach shoot.

The event was pulled together by Stagecoach Performing Arts, whose mission is to equip the UK’s children of all ages with a broad range of skills for life through the experience of creative arts.

Facilitated by TV presenter and mum of two Angellica Bell, the Junior Cabinet saw eight children, between the ages of eight and 11, debate some of the big issues and come up with a next generation manifesto discussing topics as diverse as Government  spending, homelessness, the environment and sugar tax.

The debate revealed some passionate opinions including making university more affordable; including community service in the school curriculum; clearer ‘sugar cube equivalent’ labelling on sweets and soft drinks; the creation of ‘eco warrior’ police; and the introduction of graffiti walls to help artists express themselves.

With resounding agreement that grown-ups don’t always get it right, the children were asked what they would do if they were Prime Minister and who they would choose to become PM – with answers varying from the return of David Cameron to an Ant & Dec coalition, and ‘my best friend Emily’.

“If we can’t trade with other countries because of Brexit, we should become more eco by planting our own fruit and veg,” said Hannah.

Misha, aged 11, said: “If I were Prime Minister I’d make university free, so more people can get an education.”

Kind-hearted Ava, who’s nine, said: “I’d reach out and help homeless people because they need money and a home”.  And Shaan, 11, agreed, adding: “I’d build more soup kitchens for the homeless.”

Meanwhile 11-year-old Daisy, said: “I’d create graffiti walls so people can feel free to do arts and show it off.” And Darcey, also 11, had a very practical approach: “I’d put in place a ‘life skills’ curriculum so people can learn things like cooking and how to manage their money,” she said.

Host Angellica Bell said: “The children today were brilliant in articulating their opinions and freely sharing them with the group, something that can be seen as quite intimidating as you get older. My experience working with children is that you can always trust them to be honest and straight talking if, and when, they are given the opportunity.”

Stagecoach Head of Marketing, Jo Scalpello, added: “We are really proud of our students for having the creative courage to take part in this activity and share their views on the world. Performance is about so much more than just singing, dancing and acting, and it’s wonderful to see them in action like this.

“These students embody our whole mission at Stagecoach where we use Performing Arts to help children become more creative, expressive and confident, helping them prepare for the world’s opportunities while still having fun.”

Watch the kids in action and see the highlights of the debate here: http://bit.ly/2cevaSW

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