Monday 20 October 2014

WHY: What's happening for the young? A new festival at the Southbank, launching Thursday

Children and young people stand up for their rights at a new Southbank Centre festival, running from Thursday 23 to Sunday 26 October 2014

WHY? What’s Happening for the Young will take over the entire site for four packed days of talks, debates, performances, free participatory events and workshops exploring all aspects of the current protection and promotion of children and young people’s rights in the UK.

Programmed in consultation with over a hundred individuals, organisations and figureheads, WHY? brings together the voices of children and adults of different backgrounds and experiences to explore what it means to be a child today. The festival is an opportunity for policy makers, social workers, families, children of all ages and their schools to immerse themselves in fundamental questions about childhood today. Inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the topics covered include politics, young people’s access to culture, immigration, career advice and sex education

  • A chance for children to make political banners and learn protest songs before taking to the Southbank Centre streets to participate in the BIG PROTEST for children’s rights (Thursday 23).
  • Events with leading policy-makers, figureheads, teachers and artists including: Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England; writer and Kids Company Director, Camila Batmanghelidjh CBE; classical musician and organiser of Channel 4’s ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ campaign, James Rhodes; Coronation Street star, Charlie Condou; actor and director, Femi Oyeniran who starred in Adulthood and Kidulthood and artist, banner-maker, Ed Hall. The voice of children and young people will be at the heart of WHY?,with many of the discussion panels including at least one child or young adult.
  • An interactive session led by UNICEF for adults and children to openly discuss and explore the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Friday 24).
  • Bryony Kimmings’ That Catherine Bennett Show – an interactive show for families challenging today’s role models for eight-year-old girls (Saturday 25 – Tuesday 28).
  • Pondling   a family comedy play with Best Actress (Dublin Fringe Festival 2013) Genevieve Hulme-Beaman about the confusing troubles of a growing little girl. (Friday 24 - Saturday 25).
  • Devoted and Disgruntled event focused on arts and sports in education (Saturday 25 & Sunday 26).
  • Hungry Childhoods – an exhibition of artwork by children and young people experiencing chronic hunger and food insecurity (a partnership by The Kids Company and Ella’s Kitchen.) 
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said:
“All too often children and young people’s rights and creativity are sidelined so at WHY? What’s Happening for the Young? we seek to provide an open platform for urgent conversations about how the needs and ideas of children and young people can be properly included in the world. In this country we no longer take seriously the adage ‘children should be seen not heard’, and we don’t send youngsters up chimneys or down mines or into the mills or fields to earn their keep. With the number of toys, games and clothes aimed at the children’s market other societies might even accuse us of becoming too indulgent of children’s perceived tastes. However, we know from research that too many children don’t experience basic levels of happiness or a sense of belonging. They suffer from pressures at school, online and from notions of ‘fitting in’ that can cause real worry or sadness for them – and too many children still have to deal with violence and neglect inside the home. Once they reach teenage years they are often expected to behave like adults, but without enough support.”
Barbara Reeves, Partner in sponsor Mishcon de Reya's Family Practice, said: 
"This festival will provide a forum for children, young people and adults to debate, probe and question ideas around children’s rights and raise awareness, an issue that we feel extremely passionate about. Our objective is to put children – specifically their wishes, needs and wellbeing – at the forefront during parental disputes and separation. As a nation, we rarely consult children on issues that impact, shape and influence their lives. At Mishcon, we believe it's important to lead a national debate about this critical issue."
Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, said:
“I don’t ‘campaign’ in my role as Children’s Commissioner for England but I have a legal duty to promote and protect children’s rights, so I am delighted that the Southbank Centre, one of the country’s best known arts centres, is championing children and young people’s rights.”

For further details click here.

All text and images (c) Southbank Centre