School Pupils Take Over Council Chamber

Children's Parliament discusses the environment

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Pictured (left to right) are the mayor, Cllr Minnie Scott Russell, Langford Primary pupils Yemi Onibada, 11, and Nala Johnson, 10, with lucky mascot Scruffy, and community and children's services cabinet member, Cllr Antony Lillis.

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Children from ten borough primary schools had their say on issues ranging from water conservation and improvements to Bishops Park to breakfast clubs, personal safety and a revamp of the Westway subway when they took over the council chamber for the day.

About 120 children, aged 10-11, took part in the Children's Parliament on the Environment at Hammersmith Town Hall recently. Two elected speakers from each school made presentations on their chosen topics, covering environmental, school and local issues.

The children researched their topics with the help of Hammersmith & Fulham Urban Studies Centre, which arranged for pupils to meet relevant council officers, residents and community groups as well as transport or environmental organisations.

During the Children's Parliament, the pupils gave their presentations in the council chamber, before taking part in a question and answer session with each other. Judging of the competition was conducted by Cllr Antony Lillis, cabinet member for community and children's services; Cllr Minnie Scott Russell, the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham; Andrew Christie, director of children's services, and Jon Whitwell, the council's assistant director of planning.

The judges announced awards in three categories: Presentation Skills, Research and Environmental Action. A Children's Award was also made by the pupils themselves. Award-winners received framed certificates.

The winning primary schools and their chosen topics were: Presentation Skills - Kenmont Primary (energy use in our school); Research - Bentworth Primary (improvements to the Westway subway); Environmental Action - the joint winners were Langford Primary (water conservation) and Wendell Park Primary (improving playtime); Children's Award - Flora Gardens Primary (setting up a breakfast club).

Community and children's services cabinet member, Cllr Antony Lillis, who also chaired the event, said: "Young people care deeply about the environment and social issues and have plenty of good ideas for conservation and other local projects - including new ways to improve and enjoy the local environment. Pupils who take part in the event are encouraged to develop their ideas through classroom and community activities. Their projects often help bring about positive change in their school and the local area."

Sue Ingham, director of the Hammersmith & Fulham Urban Studies Centre, said: "Children really value the opportunity to have their say on issues that affect them and to put forward practical solutions and ideas for community projects. They also tell us how important it is that people are listening to their views and taking them seriously."

November 24, 2006