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College students give peace a chance

Art, dance and inspirational speakers brought peace into focus at The Manchester College during its very first International Peace Day celebrations.

Students at Shena Simon and Openshaw campus enjoyed talks from TEDx speaker Ray Douglas and film and TV actor Ashley Chin, while street dancers Break Mission and showed ways of channelling energy into positive activities.

Ray, who works to tackle gang culture, spoke to students about conflict resolution, grooming, gangs and extremism, and encouraged them to build their own personal resilience and understanding.

He said: “It has been a difficult 18 months for Manchester, and talks like the one I’m giving at the College are part of the healing process. It about recognising that conflict comes by lack of diversity and understanding. People don’t have to have the same viewpoint but they have to be willing to listen and have respect.”

Ashley Chin, who features in the current film release The Intent 2, said: “I was raised on a council estate in London where there was anything but peace, but I’m here to say that peace can be found later in life. A lot of people focus on what they can gain in life – such as fame and money – but not necessarily the hard work that comes before it. I’m telling the students that they need to focus on that hard work and the journey to get to where they want to be.”

Amanda Sillett, Head of Student Services, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said: “This is the first time that we’ve celebrated International Peace Day. The event is about opening young people’s eyes as to why peace is so important, and we’ve done that through art poetry, inspirational talks, and dance.

“Our focus is on harnessing the energy that young people have for the greater good and for positive outcomes. It’s also about helping to reduce gang violence and letting people know it’s not ok to carry knives or feel afraid when you go out.

A big thank you must go to all our guests, and we look forward to seeing Ray again when he delivers 10 more talks to our students on topics relating to our Citizenship Calendar.

Visit The Manchester College website to view our Performing Arts courses.