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13 November 2014

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You are in: London > London Local > Croydon > Spare Time > Youths show there is an alternative to gangs

Members of Escape Youth Project in Mitcham

Escape youth project in Mitcham

Youths show there is an alternative to gangs

Dozens of young people braved the weather to perform in Mitcham town centre to mark the end of their summer project.

Escape Youth Project is the brain child of former Croydon students Andre Hackett and Richard Abiona.  In its second year, the scheme which operates over the summer holidays worked with young people aged 11 to 15 from around the Mitcham area.

This year saw around 70 young people taking part in a series of music, dance and drama workshops.  The aims of the project according to its organisers are to provide an alternative to gang culture and “help young people take advantage of the opportunities they have here”.

caring for others

The teenagers also helped raised money for the Wood Worlds Missions particularly supporting a charity for other young people in Ghana.

“Our slogan is young people help ourselves by helping others”, says Andre who visited Ghana earlier in the year to see how effective last year’s contributions were.

“It was a life changing experience, we've come back different”, he says.

Andre Hackett with Rev. Dr Mercy Wood

Andre Hackett & Rev. Dr Mercy Wood

"The efforts of Andre, Richard and the 70 young people who took part in the project is a real example that there are positive youths around", says the Rev. Dr Mercy Wood of Wood World Missions.

“It was awesome, she continues: "Escape Youth, as you see are trying to raise money to help the youth in Ghana …. It’s so good for youth in this country because many of the young people only hear that they are useless so it’s good to see some young people like this doing something to help other young people somewhere where they have no opportunities”.

not all bad

Local MP for Mitcham Siobhain McDonagh was present as the young people put on their show.  “It gives the lie to the idea that all young people are bad …. They've been great”

For the young people it was a resounding success:

“It keeps us off the streets and gives us something to do during the holidays”

“It’s been quite good enabling me to do stuff during the summer”

"It’s been really important last year I was one of the kids this year I'm volunteering and it’s nice to see what difference we make and we actually do change their minds and influence them”

Check out the full interview with Andre and Rev Dr Wood.  Hear what the young participants had to say alongside MP Siobhain McDonagh by clicking on to links below:

last updated: 12/09/2008 at 15:14
created: 12/09/2008

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