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Students from two York secondary schools have spent a week down under as part of a youth exchange project which focuses on true inclusion.
Six students from Vale of York Academy and Manor CE Academy, partner schools within the Hope Learning Trust, travelled to Melbourne, Australia, as part of the National Treasures project coordinated by Everything is Possible, a not-for-profit organisation working to provide opportunities for young people. Over 50 students in Year 10 at Vale of York and Manor applied to go on this trip of a lifetime. Six students from a range of backgrounds were then selected.
The Hope Learning Trust York is one of the partners in The National Treasures project alongside Everything is Possible, ACER Brasil, IFALL in Sweden and Westside Circus in Australia. It is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission. National Treasures aims to be a ‘true inclusion’ project. In addition to supporting young people with fewer opportunities, it wants to embrace all young people, those facing obstacles as well as those who have no obvious difficulties.
Miriam Zulkarnain, from Vale of York Academy, who accompanied the students on the trip said “This project gave some of our young people a life-changing opportunity to mix with other young people from very different backgrounds: refugees currently living in Sweden, young people who attend a circus school in Australia and others from the Favelas of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
“During the youth exchange, all of the young people took part in various workshops hosted by each nation. Our students learnt invaluable skills including leadership, communication skills, circus skills, cooking for a group and being able to adapt to new environments. When we arrived, we were privileged to be greeted by an aboriginal elder and shown some of the traditional ways in which the aboriginal people regard and respect their land. The week in Melbourne ended with a performance by all of the participants that included some of the things learnt during the workshops – it was incredible! The students learnt so much, about themselves and each other.”
Academy student, Natasha Potts, who took part in the scheme adds “Australia was an experience that I shall never forget. I made new friends along the way and that created a wonderful atmosphere. To be honest, there was not a part of the trip I didn’t enjoy, but I loved learning the circus tricks. I am really thankful that I could go into this trip and I can’t wait to see some of my new friends next year when they come to York.”
The Hope Learning Trust has participated in the Everything is Possible programme previously, taking a group of 10 students to Rio in 2016 as part of an Olympic Legacy Project.