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24 February, 2011

Young social activists take a trip to the Gambia to investigate eco friendly tourism

During February 2011, six students from the Isle of Man visited the Gambia, one of Africa’s most impoverished countries, to see first hand, and report on, the work of Concern Universal in promoting sustainable agriculture in tourism. The young people from Queen Elizabeth II High School, winners of the Citizenship Foundation's Giving Nation Award, began their journey in the small seaside village of Gunjur.

The students received their Giving Nation Award in October 2010 on behalf of the school for their efforts and outstanding commitment to charity and community action in their local area.

Tom Anderson, 15, said, ‘I think we are very lucky to have won a trip to the Gambia and have been able to see the variety of challenges troubling the country, however, I think the work we have put into Giving Nation has shown us what we can do in our local community.'

On their visit, the students and their teacher were able to learn about the challenges faced by people in the Gambia including climate change and food shortages. They were also able to consider how they can contribute to the global movement to fight poverty once back in the UK.

They visited various communities and ecotourism initiatives including a snake farm and farming cooperatives, and received a warm welcome when they visited the SMILE Garden under TARUD, a Concern Universal partner. The farmers, all women, demonstrated the power of learning farming techniques and how access to water can help them feed their families and escape poverty. Lauren Blayney, 15, said, ‘I was inspired by the motivation of the Gambian women and I would love to make a film to illustrate their courage and determination and to spread the message of teamwork.'

The partnership between Concern Universal and Giving Nation aims to give the students the opportunity to observe how tourism can work positively in conjunction with agriculture in building greater prosperity for Gambian local communities. Jenny Holland from Concern Universal said, ‘It is a great opportunity for these students to witness first hand community-led development but also to engage with local youths who are working to improve their lives.'

Working with local young people from Kajabang Village, the students held a cross-cultural discussion on the importance of volunteerism and charitable giving. The young people shared their experiences on issues of migration, education and tourism.

‘This trip teaches students the importance and the positive effects of intercultural communication to develop important skills, which are indispensable in today's interconnected world society', said Lesley Sleight, teacher.

The Giving Nation programme, from education and participation charity the Citizenship Foundation, is one of the largest school-based social enterprise activities in England. The students from Queen Elizabeth II High School are just some of the 163,000 young people participating in the Giving Nation Challenge across the UK.

A report released by the Giving Nation programme in January 2011 shows that over 1760 charities and organisations have benefited from the programme with an average of £1,775 per school being donated and an average of 5.8 hours being spent by each student participating in the initiative. This demonstrates the programme's ability in developing young people's skills in volunteerism, campaigning and social entrepreneurship, aiding the vision of the government's Big Society.

Further information

To find out more please email:

Notes for editors:

Media contact

Emma Doyle at the Citizenship Foundation, tel: 0207 566 4134 or email emma.doyle@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

Notes to Editors

Student blogs, journals and film footage will be available shortly and the Giving Nation 2007-2011 evaluation report is available upon request. Please contact Emma Doyle for further details.

About the Citizenship Foundation

The Citizenship Foundation is an independent education and participation charity (no 801360) that aims to encourage and enable individuals to engage in democratic society. Founded in 1989, our particular focus is on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding of the law, democracy and public life. We do this by championing civic participation, supporting teachers and schools with the delivery of citizenship education and by working with young people in community-settings on issues that concern them. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

About the Giving Nation programme

Giving Nation is a project of the Citizenship Foundation that is supported by the Office of the Third Sector (Cabinet Office) to support, inspire and encourage young people to learn about and engage with the work of charities, social enterprises and the Third Sector while benefitting their local community.

www.g-nation.org.uk

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