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RACIST CRIME AND BULLYING ARE DAMAGING OUR HEALTH, SAY YOUNG LONDONERS

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At a youth assembly in Hackney young Londoners will call on political leaders today to crack down on racist crime a...
At a youth assembly in Hackney young Londoners will call on political leaders today to crack down on racist crime and bullying in the capital.

Teenagers from across the capital will ratify a 'health and well-being manifesto' to be presented in September* to the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. It will include calls for a greater police presence on streets, a crack down on gun crime, and for drug education to be provided by outside experts and ex-users, who really understand the dangers, rather than teachers.

This one-off assembly is the culmination of the King's Fund's four-year Imagine London programme. More than 3,000 young people have contributed to it, thinking of ways to make the capital a healthier place to live in. During this period racism and bullying have consistently been the issues of greatest concern.

Sara Ali, an 18-year-old student who took part in the Imagine London programme, said: 'There are real issues that concern us, such as crime, transport and the environment, and it's about time that young people are listened to. This Youth Assembly will hopefully kick-start that.'

Teenagers will have the opportunity to pose questions to deputy mayor of London Nicky Gavron and GLA assembly members Samantha Heath, Jenny Jones and Eric Ollerenshaw. They will also take part in workshops using art, music, rap, drama and dance to express their views on London's health.

King's Fund chief executive Rabbi Julia Neuberger said: 'This event should alert those people responsible for planning the future of London to the ways in which young people believe it could be made a healthier city.

'Young people have a valuable contribution to make to public policy and it is vital that these ideas must be given due consideration by those in positions of power, and we hope they will listen to them.'

Notes

The Imagine London programme - the biggest exercise of its kind involving young people - worked across a wide spectrum of policy areas including transport, the environment and crime to promote teenagers' ideas on how to improve quality of life in London. These three issues were debated at three key events examining their impact on young people's health, with two other events concentrating on healthy living and emotional well-being. Steering groups consisting of 12 to 18-year-olds directed the events to gain young people's views on how planners and policy makers might make London a healthier city.

A survey carried out by ICM on behalf of the King's Fund in May 2002 found that 71 per cent of the 2,064 12-17-year-olds interviewed said a crackdown on racism and bullying was most important to them. Also, more than 50 per cent of young people who participated in the survey behind the King's Fund's A Good Place to Learn publication said they had been bullied, while 20 per cent revealed they had experienced racism in schools.

* The health and well-being manifesto to be presented in September to the mayor of London Ken Livingstone is part of the launch of the GLA's Children and Young People's Strategy by the Office of Children's Rights Commissioner for London.

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