INSPIRATIONAL speakers, poets and performers motivated school children to recognise the “harms of hate” at a special event.
The event, which was organised by Rotherham Borough Council, took place in front of around 600 pupils from across Rotherham’s secondary schools at Magna.
It featured survivors of hate recounting their personal stories and lived experiences of coming through hate, extremism and terror.
They spoke to the young people about their experiences, in a bid to get them to challenge hatred when they see it and to work together and be united in the fight against hate.
Cllr Emma Hoddinott, the council’s cabinet member for community safety and chair of the Safer Rotherham Partnership, said: “We are fronting this event in order to send a clear message about challenging hatred.
“We want this event to empower and support young people in Rotherham to think about some of the issues in society today.
“We want the next generation to lead the way in standing up against hatred and to help each other.
“This is especially important here in Rotherham in terms of the legacy of the child sexual exploitation scandal and the hate issues which arose as a result.
“Only by challenging bigotry will things change for the better. Educating young people to be at the forefront of this change will ensure Rotherham becomes a better place for everyone.”
The council’s aim was for the audience to be inspired by the stories and go away with a sense of hope that things can change if positive action is taken.
This work builds on the work of the council’s community cohesion strategy, working with partners to support residents and groups across the town.
Those speaking included Ahmad Nawaz, who experienced unbelievable tragedy when members of the Taliban stormed his school in Peshawar in December 2014 when he was just 14 years old.
Speakers at the event (left to right) are: Ray Hearne, MC for the event; Figen Murray, Sile Sibanda, Dr Nasser Kurdy, Ahmad Nawaz, James Greogory and Carol Robson. 184352-1
Cllr Sarah Allen, the council’s cabinet member for cleaner, greener communities and cohesion, added: “It is vital that our young people hear these powerful stories first hand to help build a community ethos and resilience around any forms of hate in the town.
“By inviting powerful speakers like Ahmad we hope to demonstrate that the council is firmly standing up against hate and taking a lead in showing that through courage and determination we can increase the resilience of Rotherham young people to make positive decisions about their futures.
“Ahmad was just 14 years old at the time of the attack and instead of battling against the perpetrators, chose to fight back by campaigning to motivate young people to think critically about the importance of rejecting hateful thoughts and channel energies into creating a peaceful prosperous society.
“This is exactly the message that the council is keen to promote to ensure that every child is making the best start in life, and every adult is secure, responsible and empowered.”
The event was funded by the Home Office and will be used to create an educational video to be shared across all schools in the borough.
Music was provided by Rawmarsh Community School Band and finished the event with Oasis track 'Don't Look Back In Anger.