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24 July, 2007

Value Life : Gladesmore Students March for Peace

On 17th July, Youth Act graduates and students from Gladesmore Community School took their message for peace to the streets.

“Put your guns down, pick your books up!” hundreds of students’ voices chant from the top of three, red open-air buses hurtling through Haringey. This is the fourth annual Value Life anti-knife and gun crime peace march held by Gladesmore Community School and this year they’re driving their campaign message along the main roads of the North London borough.

Founded by a group of nine Youth Act graduates from Gladesmore Community School in 2003, the Value Life campaign was set up to raise awareness about gun and knife crime in the local community. Four years and four street protests on, Value Life is an award-winning student-led citizenship project gaining increasing local and national presence. And now, following a morning of powerful and moving speeches, music and presentations hundrerds of students are travelling through Haringey to present their petition to local councillors and gather support from the streets for their campaign.

Lee Carryl, head of citizenship at the school takes a break from the megaphone explain:

“The campaign aims to reduce knife and gun crime but to also encourage students to start to look at their role within society and to become informed, active members of society. 500 people from the community joined us last year and this year we’re hoping for even more support.”

Over the years the campaign and its activities have been lead by students. Blake,14, a student was involved in organising the festival:

“I helped to organise the stage and stalls for today’s events. Today is really important to me, it’s really important to all of us, we’re here to show respect to Annaka and to get people to listen: we just don’t want knife and gun crime any more.”

Recent coverage and research suggest a startling increase in the numbers of young people carrying knives. The Gladesmore community have, tragically, not been unaffected by this rising trend. In late June, 17 year-old Annaka Pinto, a former Gladesmore student was shot and killed in a night club in Tottenham. In a moving speech to the crowds Annaka’s aunt Jenny Mitchell urged young people and the community:

“I’m asking you to support life. The gun and knife crime you know is a killer. Standing here we may be of different colour or creed but we are one fighting against this.”

Students from eight local schools joined Glademsore at the Value Life festival to create a peace map representing lasting collaboration and commitment to combating gun and knife crime in Haringey. They were also joined by members of the London police, local council, community and representatives from a number of youth and community organisations.

Along the route, students presented a petition to strengthen sentences for knife crime offences to local councillors and were joined by MP for Tottenham David Lammy as they marched through the main shopping streets handing out leaflets and gathering support from the on-looking shoppers and crowds.


Your comments

From Amal Addow - Hornsey
I think that Value Life is a great way to stop guns and knifes from entering our peaceful streets of london. This is a great way to get our message across because a lot of teenagers help us to march and makes us noticable and serious that we want guns off our streets!

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