28th November 2013
St John Ambulance and Release the Peace last night won a Children and Young People Now Award for their trail-blazing work in schools, supported by Youth United.
Youth United has backed the initiative as part of our efforts to increase access to the opportunities our member organisations offer young people, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
At the heart of the Release the Peace campaign are Margaret Mizen and Grace Idowu, who both lost their sons Jimmy Mizen and David Idowu to violent crime in 2008. Jimmy was murdered a day after his 16th birthday and 14-year-old David died after being stabbed while he was playing football in a park near his home.
Margaret and Grace are taking it in turns to visit local schools to talk about the unimaginable suffering caused by youth violence. Having visited convicted murderers in jail, the bereaved parents tell their young audiences how the devastating effects of violence are a lifelong legacy - for perpetrators as well as their victims’ families.
After their hard-hitting talks, young St John Ambulance peer educators encourage the youngsters to shun violence in favour of learning the basic first aid skills needed to save a life. In a series of fun, lively first aid sessions with plenty of hands on practice, pupils learn techniques such as putting an unconscious person in the recovery position and treating severe bleeding.
Thanks to the partnership, between January and July this year nearly 2,000 pupils in 26 East London schools learned essential life saving skills and were confronted with the terrible consequences of youth violence.
The training ends with an invitation to get involved with some of the wide range of life changing adventures and activities offered by the Youth United Network, including St John Ambulance.
In a report on the initiative's impact, Saafiyah Ahmed, a teacher from Elmhurst primary, commented that the project "expanded the horizons of the young people" by introducing them to Youth United member organisations - affirming to the young people that they could join such organisations and they could take part in activities that, as Saaffiyah put it, "they would never see themselves as taking part in".
The Children and Young People Now Awards, now in their eighth year, recognise and reward excellent practice in supporting children, young people and families to lead happy, healthy and successful lives.