#lovelowry guest curator – the lowry young leaders

The Lowry Young Leaders – Love Lowry Blog

The Lowry Young Leaders is a group for young people aged 13 to 18 to creatively explore current social issues and develop their own social action campaigns. A space for the young people to build confidence and leadership skills, and most importantly have fun and make friends! Initially established online over lockdown, the group now meet at The Lowry, using various art forms to explore issues that are relevant to them.

Over the past six months the young people have had the opportunity to work with leading artists and companies such as Kwame Amoah Mensah (Youth Action/Journalist), Edenamiuki Aiguobasinmwin (United Nations), Zara Manoe (Youth Voice/Social Policy), Niki Colclough (Applied Arts), Ollie Daley (Burnley Youth Theatre), Arts and Homelessness International and Girl Gang Manchester.

Exploring themes such as Generation Z, public speaking and entrepreneurship, how to get your voice heard by adults and decision makers, and how to use art for activism.

This blog was co-written by The Lowry Young Leaders group to tell you what really matters to them. We hope you enjoy reading it.

What Really Matters to Us!!

We are The Lowry Young Leaders and we’d like to share with you our thoughts about our Young Leaders group and some of the issues that affect society that we feel strongly about.

Firstly, we feel it’s important for young people to have a safe space to voice their opinions, a place where they can meet with other likeminded people.  This group is important to us because it’s something fun to do outside of school, it’s good for our mental health and wellbeing and it empowers us to make positive change in our local and wider communities.

We’ve all been through so much over this last year. Being a teen during a pandemic means that a lot of our key development, learning and social time has been lost, things seem like they’ll never go back to normal and we now have to accept and adapt to this new normal. This group helps us because it enables us to share our concerns and give our opinions freely, without any judgment.

There is so much to discuss with you, so many things that we care about, things that concern us. Including social media, as it’s a massive part of our lives, and how all the ‘fake’ representations and expectations really impacts us and effects our mental health.

We definitely should be talking more about mental health and emotions, because people keep their problems and worries to themselves and we need to learn to share our problems and access support when we need it. We all worry about our futures, our job security and employment opportunities. We worry about climate change and what we can do to stop it NOW as it won’t go away unless we do something. We worry about child poverty and people losing work during the pandemic meaning that there are families that are really struggling and the government just isn’t doing enough to help.

There’s so much to talk about but for now we’ve chosen three topics to share our thought on in more detail, gender identity, anti-racism and equality.

Gender Identity – Gender identity is important to us because people struggle to be accepted for who they are and we all have to stop making assumptions.  People should be allowed to express themselves freely without being judged or receiving comments like “stop making up new genders”. It’s also the same with pronouns, for example it should be okay for people to use gender neutral or gender neo pronouns. We don’t think it should be a massive thing to ‘come out’ as a different gender from what is assigned at birth, people should just accept it, use the right pronouns and move on! We want to make asking for pronouns an automatic thing,  don’t assume someone’s gender identity or pronouns because of the way they dress or the way that they present themselves as that can be extremely harmful. We want teachers and people in school to use pronouns, we want them to care and we want them to get it right. People have moved outside of the gender binary norms and it’s time for society to accept that gender and sexuality are fluid.

Anti-racism – Greater Manchester is such a diverse city, with people from all kinds of backgrounds, places and cultures. This diversity should be embraced, shared and celebrated. Racism most of the time comes from a place of ignorance and we need to educate ourselves and others. For those who are unsure, anti-racism or being anti-racist means that you will stand up to racism if you see it happening because standing up to racism is the right thing to do. Being non racist is a different thing, it means you yourself are not going to participate in racist comments or actions but you would not stand up to it if you see it happen. Being anti-racist is important because we are all equals and we all need to be advocates for that message. Also making assumptions about people’s race and culture because of the way they look is wrong. ‘Black Lives Matter’ grew from the systematic mistreatment and abuse of people of colour, campaigning for ‘Black Lives Matter’ shouldn’t be a trend, people can’t just move on. We need to strive to educate, we need to stop racism and we need to continue to talk about this with our friends, families and communities.

Equality – People should be treated equally no matter what their religion, race, gender identity, sexual preference, age, beliefs or appearance are.  Equality is treating everyone as an equal and not having any bias. From day to day activities, in school and in the work place it is important to include everyone, because everybody deserves to be heard, seen and understood no matter of who they are. Quick question….How on earth does the gender pay gap still exist? This is so wrong, this shouldn’t still be a thing, but it is! There should be equal pay for everyone, with no pay disparities, and all genders should be given the same opportunities. As young people we often feel left out and it’s frustrating when people think we’re not capable of having an opinion because of our age or because we’re not ‘mature enough’, when the reality is older people are not always ‘mature enough’ to make important decisions.  This is our future, we should have more of a say on what happens. We want our opinions and voices to matter, equality is listening, respecting and valuing everyone.

Thank you for reading our blog. Having friends who are supportive really matters to us, having someone there to offer encouragement and support really matters to us. This group gives us exactly that, friends, support and encouragement. For more information about our Young Leaders group please contact louise.harney@thelowry.com.  Maybe you can help us make positive change. We’d love to hear from you!

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