25 April 2022

The University of East London's Dekan Apajee recently joined forces with Big Ideas to support more than 4,000 students from 74 schools across London write a letter to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, sharing their hopes for a post-Covid city.

Mr Apajee, sports journalism programme leader at the School of Arts and Creative Industries, was invited to host a series of workshops for the primary and secondary school pupils as part of Big Ideas' GameChangers programme, an initiative which empowers young Londoners to make positive change in their schools and communities.

As part of the workshops, students were given guided thinking activities to connect with their emotions, to think about their lives and the issues around London that were important to them. Key themes that emerged from the sessions were:

  • The environment (littering, pollution, climate change).
  • Racial justice (racism in schools and policing).
  • Current leadership in parliament.
  • Knife crime (gangs, safer streets).
  • Homelessness (people sleeping on the streets, access to safer housing).
  • Refugees and war (Ukraine and Britain's involvement).

Mr Apajee shared his expertise and experience as a journalist and UEL lecturer to help the students craft their thoughts and emotions into letters to Mr Khan and his team of advisors, calling for change and sharing ideas on how to shape a future London. The letters will be delivered to City Hall in the next few months.

Mr Apajee said, "It was great to work with so many young people alongside the team at Big Ideas. It's encouraging to see young people are passionate about their future and this comes across in their letters. The eloquence of youth voice and the drive for change are an inspiration and should give us all hope for the future."

Big Ideas is a community engagement organisation specialising in projects that bring people together. It has been running GameChangers in London schools since 2020. It is part of Team London Young Ambassadors - the Mayor of London’s schools volunteering programme. GameChangers encourages young people to identify an issue that they want to change. They are then supported by their teacher and the team to take action.

Big Ideas' senior producer Lottie Selwyn said, "As part of our GameChangers programme, we hosted a series of eight Youth Summits over the course of a week to support young people to use the power of their voice to speak to those in power.

"We wanted to work with someone who is experienced using their voice to make people aware of issues and an experienced storyteller which is why we were delighted to work with Mr Apajee. It was fantastic to incorporate his skills and knowledge into the planning and delivery of these sessions."

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