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Routes2Success Preston Manor Project

By Hepburn Harrison-Graham

Recently my wish came true, when I was given the opportunity to work with a group of boys at Preston Manor School in Wembley.  It was a real opportunity to do something consequential with the boys, something from which they could learn.

As it was Black History Month, the boys wanted to do a project about contemporary Black British history. After debating various options, such as Stephen Lawrence and the SUS laws, they opted to tell the story of the New Cross Fire in 1981, in which fourteen young black people lost their lives.

I went away and wrote a ten-minute ensemble piece, to ensure all nineteen boys made a verbal contribution. Many of them had never done drama before, so it was both challenging and daunting for them.  Obviously, it wasn’t all plain sailing but, on the whole the boys were focused, disciplined, worked well as a team and, most importantly, had fun.

At the end of the rehearsal process, I was enormously impressed and very proud when they performed the ten-minute play to all Preston Manor year group assemblies.  For some, it was a huge quantum leap in terms of their oral communication, self-esteem and confidence. Proving once more that drama is a great tool for helping young people to overcome their insecurities.

Judging by the feedback, the boys thoroughly enjoyed the project and would be keen to do more. For my part, it was by far the most gratifying thing I ever done during my time with Routes to Success.  Not only because I had more time with the boys but because I was able to equip them with some key life skills while educating them about  one of the darkest days in Black British history.

Read more about the project on page 7 of the Preston Manor School newsletter

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