Pupils are demanding action on a range of causes,Hundreds of children marched through the city centre today to make their voices heard on causes including climate change, air quality, gender equality and obesity.Pupils from The Willows Community Primary school and Haveley Hey Primary, both in Wythenshawe , along with St Mary’s C of E in Moss Side met at the site of the new Peterloo Memorial to demand action on the issues that affect them most.
A number of children gave inspiring speeches before the group marched to St Peter’s Square where they handed over a book outlining their thoughts to Manchester councillors .The event was part of the Pupil Parliament initiative, launched in January, and the first of its kind in the country.
It is currently made up of year five pupils from 13 primary schools across the city, working with older children up to the age of 16 at Manchester Enterprise Academy.
The idea to develop the Westminster politicians of tomorrow is also a progression of a ‘Rights Respecting’ programme that many of the city’s schools are part of; to encourage, nurture and listen to the views of children.
The programme is a Unicef campaign, which sees schools gain bronze, silver and gold status on how they embed the values of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.Phil Trohear, deputy headteacher of St Mary’s, was among those who organised the march.His pupils have chosen air quality as their cause and Mr Trohear said it is something they are “very, very passionate” about.St Mary’s is close to some of the most polluted streets in Manchester, including Princess Road which is one of 152 in the city where nitrogen dioxide is at illegal levels.
“They want change,” Mr Trohear said.We asked them ‘what do you want?’ and they talked about a big promotion of electric vehicles, the reduction of cars and buses, encouraging people to walk and cycle to work and school.”There also needs to be the infrastructure there to support that.Teachers say pupils are “well informed” on the causes “We looked at all the positives and negatives in Manchester.”
The march follows in the footsteps of a number of demonstrations involving older schoolchildren that has brought the city centre to a standstill on several occasions this year.They were inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old who started taking time off school to protest inaction on climate change outside the Swedish parliament last year.
Each school has chosen a different cause to campaign on – from gender equality to obesity.Now millions of pupils around the world have taken part in co-ordinated demonstrations.Mr Trohear said he believes Manchester’s children are becoming a voice to be reckoned with.”They are very well informed,” he said.”They understand there are serious implications for their future unless something is done.”The pupil parliament will be run and governed by the children with the help of their teachers and will also act as a type of progression to the city’s Youth Council.
Manchester city centre newsWe have a dedicated Facebook page bringing you all the latest news, events and community news in Manchester city centre.To keep up to date with all that is happening in the city centre – and to join in the discussion – follow the page here.Councillor Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said earlier this year: “I applaud such vision at such a young age – who knows we may have a future leader for the city in that group of children.
“This is all about creating opportunities, taking initiative and speaking out on the things that matter.”I’m really interested to see that good health and wellbeing figure so high in the priorities – especially as the city is in the middle of major work to create a healthier Manchester, with more help brought into communities, which includes addressing poverty and inequality.”
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