Guest Blog by Megan Garside
Photo credit: Sarah Mason
Children are the future – there’s no doubt about that. That’s why Happy Valley Pride makes it a priority to educate the next generation with lessons from the past and pass on the message of love and equality.
Education has always been a key aspect in our mission. Each year we work closely with schools in Calderdale, to help them to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community through our Youth Engagement program.
This year we are focusing on encouraging the children to explore their own individuality and express themselves through art and creative outlets. We call this the Creative Youth Engagement Project.
When it came time to choose this year’s Youth Engagement officer, there was no better choice than local musician and LGBTQ+ supporter Terry Logan. If you live in Hebden Bridge, you have probably heard of Terry logan, but if you haven’t then listen up! Terry is an amazing musician and has been a prominent member of the local pride community for quite some time.
Terry is not only a singer-songwriter by night, but a teacher by day. She is the Head Mentor Tutor at Ryburn Valley Sixth Form where she created one of the first LGBTQ+ student support groups in Calderdale and inspired students to run their own Pride week and musical theatre production. Extra-curricular activities are very important to Mrs Logan as she has led many afterschool events including a Battle of the Bands competition for all the sixth forms in Calderdale.
With such an impressive background, Happy Valley Pride decided to give Terry creative control of the project with the central theme being identity and creativity.
Terrys initial idea was to put on a fashion show that would take place during the Happy Valley Pride festival. The kids involved would showcase their costumes that represent their own individuality and identity. When asked about her thought process behind this idea Terry said,
“I took inspiration from ballroom culture and how the fringes of society express themselves through fashion and representing themselves through visual identity.”
However, when the community caught wind of this exciting idea, many schools wanted to take part and it became apparent that this project had some branching out to do. With help from teaching staff, Terry has spread the program over five Key Stage groups in eight different schools.
“I’ve had great support from the teachers who have told me what particular objectives to focus on and what type of tasks would work for their particular students in their particular schools”
The schools that are taking part are; Old Town School, Todmorden High School, Central St Infant & Stubbings Infants, Heptonstall School, Calder High, Calder Primary, Riverside Primary and Ryburn Valley High School.
Age is an important factor, so to accommodate age groups across the educational system, each Key Stage will have their own separate project based on the theme of identity, but will share the same learning objectives:
- To develop our understanding of identity
- To develop our understanding of diversity
- To develop our awareness of the LGBTQ+ community
- To develop our awareness of equality and compassion
- To connect communities both educationally and wider
Terry has devised a number of colourful and engaging lesson plans and activities that will be taught by teachers in each respective school.
“I hope this project will give the kids a more positive self-image but also a better understanding of others so that there isn’t any animosity or bullying in schools because those years when we’re growing up are our most insecure.”
The children in KS1 (aged 4-6) will take part in a string of lessons based around their personal identity, family identity, cultural identity and sexual identity. They will then take all of that learning and create a personal piece of art that signifies how they see themselves as an individual. Those art pieces will then be put into a collage and displayed at a local art gallery on display where they can be enjoyed by the community.
KS2 (aged 7-10) will be bringing Terry’s original idea to life – the identity costumes. Understanding identity through clothing will resonate especially with this age group as Terry says, “As you get older you start to learn to see and express your identity more through what you wear and the decisions you make.” Using colour, textures and most importantly – sparkles, the kids will have the chance to let their personalities shine through in what they wear.
The high schoolers in KS3 (aged 11-16) are going to be writing identity poetry. Throughout history literature has played a major role in identity and self-expression and the LGBTQ+ community have often found comfort in poetry from modern pieces all the way back to Shakespearean times. From each class there will be a winning poet who will have their poem recorded and edited into one larger piece.
Finally, the sixth formers in KS5 (aged 16-18) will act as mentors. Children look up to those older than them, and often copy what they do, so who would make better role models than the LGBTQ+ support group at Ryburn Valley Sixth Form? The teens will to be writing their own poem and designing their own costumes which will inspire the younger children to take on their own projects.
“I think the overall idea is the younger we can start putting this kind of learning into the curriculum, hopefully it will eradicate any kind of bullying and in a way a need to raise awareness in diversity, it should just be the norm.”
The lesson plans are well underway, and the children have already embarked on their journey down the rainbow painted brick road. The creative tasks will take place at the end of the school year and the poems, pictures and costumes will be displayed at the Happy Valley Pride festival.
During May half-term Terry will find out how the lessons have been going so far and we will report back in a few weeks to see exactly what each year group has been learning and how the children are reacting to the program so far.
Tim Whitehead, Happy Valley Pride’s Artistic Director said,
“Following her appointment last week, I thought what a difference it would have made to me, as a bullied gay kid in school, to have had someone like Terry inspiring me and showing me that not only was I ok but that which made me different was something to celebrate and love.”