In February 2015, over 40 young people, supported by Citizens Cymru, and Professor Emma Renold took part in a youth-led protest to urge the Welsh Government to prioritise the importance of education in the new Violence against Women Bill.
They hand delivered personalised Valentine’s Cards to every politician in the National Assembly for Wales, which included hand-written messages from young people on why they felt it was vital to have a real relationships education that addressed their needs and experiences. The cards were sealed with a lipstick kiss to connect to the Red My Lips campaign about sexual violence. A Twitter campaign followed this action.
They were successful. In July 2015, when the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act was passed, the Welsh Government worked with Welsh Women’s Aid to publish a “Good Practice Guide” for educational practitioners on how to promote gender well-being and gender equalities for respectful relationships. A key part of this national guide encourages young people to actively start up or get involved in local and global campaigns to stop gender-based and sexual violence in their schools and community. This would only happen if young people had their own change-making tool kit to help them and others get started.
The resource has been very popular, and not just with young people. Practitioners were asking if some of the creative activities could be adapted for primary schools so that teachers could support children to safely and creatively speak out and make a difference on what mattered to them.
In its first two years, the AGENDA resource has reached international audiences, from the American launch of an expanded and interactive AGENDA tool-kit in partnership with the New York based SPARK Movement, to Valentine Card activisms in Finland. Over 120 children (age 11-12) posted 210 Valentine Cards to each member of the Finnish Parliament to let politicians know that the #MeToo campaign affected children of their age.
To ensure that AGENDA can continue to inspire educational practitioners to support children and young people to make positive relationships matter in their schools and communities, in 2018, the National Education Union supported the development of new case studies and practitioner resources, and the completion of transforming the original PDF resources into a more accessible web-friendly platform.
We hope AGENDA will continue to grow and develop, as more children, young people and practitioners engage and share their practices with us and each other.