A night to be somebody
By Ollie Chase
While there are many initiatives to engage young people in positive activities in east London, there are few that celebrate academic achievement amongst young black students in such a unique way as the Kreative Culture Klub in Leyton.
The Kreative Culture Klub (KCK) was founded by Yvonne Bailey a little over ten years ago to advance the education of young people through creative arts.
The historic achievements of Barack Obama and Lewis Hamilton provides more inspiration for black students with high aspirations.
But even in these changing times there is still a need for organisations such as KCK which work with young people from African and African-Caribbean backgrounds to combat the perpetual stereotypes of black youths being under achievers.
Since it's inception KCK has put together a number of creative and performing art projects incorporating drama, street dance, ballet, cheerleading and music which have played an important part in steering young people in Leyton away from gang culture and anti social behaviour.
For all this positive work it is still a struggle to find the funds to keep the KCK going.
Since 2003 KCK has organised the Young, Gifted and Black Awards ceremony which recognises the achievements of young black students and promotes them as role models.
The idea is to present awards to black students who have top grades in SATs, Performing Arts and GCSE’s and encourage more aspiring students to attain 5 or more passes to promote cultural and academic progress.
What started as a small scale project for 30 people in the local community centre in 2003, has grown to an event hosted by Richard Blackwood and Geoff Schumann and attended by 900 people earlier this year.
The growth in participating students has come as a consequence of more schools and colleges from the neighbouring boroughs of Newham and Redbridge joining those of Leyton's borough, Waltham Forest, in supporting the event.
Yvonne Bailey is rightly proud of how far the ceremony has come:
"The Young, Gifted & Black Awards has grown beyond our wildest expectations. It's been a phenomenal success for a small organisation like KCK that is having difficulties raising the funds to stay afloat. We've had congratulatory letters from students, parents and principles who all acknowledge the positive benefits and impact these awards have had on young black students who are fed up with the negative images associated with them in the media."
KCK may still rely on the enthusiasm of a handful of volunteers but next year's awards promise to be the biggest and best yet.
The 2009 Young Gifted and Black Awards will be held on 20th February at Walthamstow Assembly Hall
last updated: 07/11/2008 at 17:57