Failing school's stars reach the summit

February 18, 2010

Mellika Myers is looking forward to meeting Gordon Brown so that she can “give him a piece of my mind”. His problem, she believes, is that “he can’t make us understand where he’s coming from”. In Myers’ opinion, the prime minister is misrepresented in the media and unable to be himself. And as a 16-year-old student at a failing school in one of London’s most derided boroughs, she knows what that’s like.

Fortunately, Brown will be able to benefit from Myers’ advice when he meets her and the three other teenagers who have been selected to represent the UK at the G8 summit for young people, J8, in Italy, starting today. Organised by Unicef, the J8 is now in its fifth year and brings together teams of teenagers from 16 countries to debate the G8 agenda, and present their conclusions to world leaders.

This year’s UK team comes from Haling Manor high school in Cro… [more]

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Radio tuned in to the needs of looked-after children

February 18, 2010

Residents of a London children’s home take to the airwaves with their own radio station

Radio 66 may have no big-name presenters, but it does have the cult of youth. Operating out of a north London children’s home, none of the station’s programme content is produced by anyone over the age of 17. It is radio by looked-after children for looked-after children.

David, wearing a Superman baseball cap and T-shirt, is one of the six permanent residents at the home. One of the founders of Radio 66, ­Nigerian musician Leke Awoyinka, is showing him how to use a drum machine. They are recording stings – the short pre-recorded adverts for a station or programme – and a poem written by Laquita, another resident, who has just been on an outing to a university.

Awoyinka tries to encourage Laquita to read out the poem she wrote about the visit, but she is anxious; last year, she aud… [more]

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