group of school students

Saint Mary’s Menston can be justly proud of its active involvement in working for justice and peace for many years. Since its formation three years ago, the new ‘Global Warriors’ group has been extending this commitment and growing its influence throughout the school. The aim of the group is to raise awareness about issues of injustice that affect people around the world as well as how we need to care for planet Earth itself. Members come from across all the age ranges in the school, meeting each week to discuss concerns, research issues, and plan action that the school might be able to take. The students have organised assemblies, events, fundraisers and campaigns.
On Tuesday 11th December the group had gained permission for years 7 and 8 to be off timetable all morning in order to learn more and be motivated to work for justice. Three organisations – CAFOD, Missio and Leeds Diocese Justice and Peace Commission were invited to share the morning with the students.

Commission member Marg Siberry represented the Commission at this event. She commented “It was heartening to witness both the commitment of the school but also the passion of the students, especially the Global Warriors group who had taken responsibility for running the whole morning. Particularly inspiring was the lengthy discussion with the global warriors who shared how being part of the group had not only encouraged them to research and analyse the causes of poverty, injustice and environmental destruction but it had also given them the confidence to stand up before fellow students and staff to campaign for action.”

Planning for Lent already, they are considering inviting their local MP to discuss the government’s actions to fulfil the UK climate change commitment, challenging the school to have better stewardship in its use of paper and talking with the school kitchen about possible ways of reducing the amount of plastic used in take-away items. The students were full of idealism but were not naïve and understood the complexities of environmental issues together with the difficulties they encounter and skills needed to motivate others.

It was clearly evident that within the group there was much encouragement for each other, healthy debate and discussion together with a growing realisation that they could make a difference. They also appreciated the power of social media and were confident in spreading their message through these channels. Marg commented further that “Far from feeling I had taught these young people anything radically new, I came away uplifted in the belief that we had had a mutually enriching dialogue where any wisdom or experience I could share was matched by their energy, desire to research into issues more deeply but above all their commitment to work for change.”
Madeline Woods (see 05 Dec news item) gave a presentation about CAFOD. She commented:
The faith day was a great opportunity to tell young people about the work being done all over the world by people who are truly living their faith. I really enjoyed talking to the inspiring students, and a huge thank you and well done to Sixth Former Tom for setting it all up!”