Young writers, poets and artists have picked up prizes in a competition aimed at challenging prejudice.
Year six pupils from across South Lakeland took part in a joint initiative between Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, AWAZ Cumbria and South Lakeland Equality and Diversity Partnership, where they were tasked with writing a short story, drawing a picture or penning a poem on the theme of ‘challenging prejudice, connecting communities.’
The competition was run as part of The Fire and Rescue Service’s Junior Citizens scheme in South Lakeland. Junior Citizens, which takes place at Cumbria’s fire stations in June, is about giving Year six pupils skills in citizenship before they move on to secondary school and covers a range of topics including fire safety, stranger danger, road safety, smoking and alcohol.
Thanks to a grant from the Co-op North West Communities fund, an Equality and Diversity element was included in the Junior Citizens in South Lakeland for the first time where the children were shown video clips and asked to discuss what prejudice is and why respect for diversity is important.
The children were also invited to submit a poem, picture or story to a competition where the winning entries and the three runners up will have their work included in a special calendar.
Today (16 July), the competition winners were announced at Kendal Town Hall and handed prizes and certificates. The first placed prize winners scooped a Kindle Fire, second prize a £20 gift voucher and third place a £10 gift voucher.
Competition entries were judged by the Wordsworth Trust.
Cumbria’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Adrian Buckle, said: “Our Junior Citizens scheme is going from strength to strength, and adding this equality and diversity element to the course has proved very successful.
“Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service represents and reflects the communities we serve, so we see teaching children about respect for people, whatever their race, religion or background, as an important part of helping them to develop as good citizens.
Councillor Barry Doughty, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “The standard of the poems, stories and pictures was excellent and all those who took part put a lot of thought, time and effort into their entries.
“This competition has been an excellent way to allow children to show their artistic talents while learning about diversity and tackling prejudice.”
Peter Foley MBE, Chair AWAZ Cumbria, said: “This unique partnership initiative has provided many children in rural Cumbria for the first time an opportunity to know and understand what race equality and diversity means and the high quality of their creative writings and visual arts will be an excellent resource for advancing equality, challenging prejudice and connecting communities in Cumbria.”
Chris Long, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for Cumbria said: “The Crown Prosecution Service is pleased that the issue of hate crime is being discussed in schools in Cumbria. We are delighted that the Racist and Religious Hate Crime resource pack that we have produced with partners has also been a core component of the overall programme and that the young people have been so responsive. We hope the joint working of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, AWAZ Cumbria and South Lakeland Equality and Diversity Partnership will help the young students of today to be better citizens of tomorrow”
Prize winners were as follows:
First – Elizabeth Sloss, Levens School
Second – Charlie Cross, Crosthwaite School
Third – Sophie Braithwaite, St Thomas’ School
First – Ellie Jones, Stramongate School
Second – Arran Pender, Crosthwaite School
Third – Bslla Matarewicz, St Oswald’s School
First - Mae Sera Cross - St Cuthbert’s School
Second (joint) – Kacper Lapok and Edd Latham, Ghyllside School
Third – Ambika Doolan – Arnside School