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13-year-old Emmerson Sutton from the UK, one of  Action for Children’s Arts (ACA) Young Supporters, introduced the manifesto at the Council of Europe in September 2020, arguing for involvement of children and youth in policy and decision making by putting himself as an example.

Good afternoon my name is Emmerson Sutton and I am thirteen years of age.  I attend Trinity Church of England Secondary School in Lewisham and I am incredibly happy there. I was born in the London Borough of Lewisham and I am proud to be a member of a community that is culturally diverse. Having respect for one another is the key to successful community cohesion. Differences are good, learning what makes each of us unique brings forth new concepts and enriches the Borough of Lewisham immensely.

At the tender age of nine, I attended my first young advisory group meeting.  Despite being the youngest advisor there I was given a chance to articulate my thoughts and understand the process of politics and effective, active ,young citizenship.  An equal opportunity is given to all ambitious advisors to engage with department heads and service managers. I have sat around many tables and have politely scrutinized their work, vision and sincerity, as an advisor I have frequently suggested alternative ideas for them to consider.  Having young representation on panels and boards ensures creative longevity.  I enjoy this kind of work so much that I have taken GCSE Citizenship as an option and will factor in my experiences both past and present that I have gained from Young Advisors.

Whilst serendipity has played a masterful hand in my life so far, it really has been the encouragement by outstanding professionals who have taken the time to listen, explain, chaperone and counsel me on to greater things.  My comprehension and knowledge across so many areas is underpinned by someone taking the time to enlighten me. I have been under the influence of Lewisham’s finest from birth. Time is a precious commodity and I am able to identify those people who spared the time and invested in me. I will continue to collaborate with amazing educators from all over the globe, they will enter and exit my life at different stages.  Time is approaching to know who some of these formidable people are and what they mean to me. Individually these people are my true influencers, collectively but unbeknown to each other they have helped to positively shape my life.

Louis Armstrong died in Corona, Queens New York City and faced much adversity throughout his whole life.  During a time of unprecedented uncertainty for children and young people across the world, I was able to make musical history in Lewisham.  I was the first Englishman to participate in the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp in New Orleans, America.  It was the first time ever that they have had online classes. I was having trumpet masterclasses by Wynton Marsalis and musical tutelage by world class trumpeters alongside American students during the summer break.  I feel immensely fortunate to have been part of this experience and my sincere gratitude goes to Elaine Grant of Mousetrap Theatre Projects who encouraged me to complete the application form.

It was at my primary school that the UN Conventions on the rights of a child were embedded in all of us.  I learned about the articles and the rights and responsibilities of children and adults alike.  Brindishe Green Primary School is a gold star rights, respecting school and I was part of that prestigious club. Last year November I was asked by Vicky Ireland from Action for Children’s Arts to host the J. M. Barrie Awards.  This great organisation also promotes the rights and raises awareness for all children to have equal access to the arts. I encourage and challenge you all to read the Manifesto and ensure that your respective countries are doing their very best for children and young people.

“We are delighted to share with you the ASSITEJ International Manifesto, based on ACA’s Children’s Arts ManifestoThis manifesto will raise awareness of children’s needs and rights to their own arts and culture, as is set out in UN Article 31. This is part of a global initiative to raise awareness of the importance of the arts in the lives of children and to draw attention to the fact that in so many countries, arts for children are not on any political agenda.”

It is my aspiration to become the President of Fifa.  I started my grassroots football career at Moonshot Football Club.  I went on to represent Lewisham District Football and now play for Queen’s Park Rangers Football Academy.  I want to ensure that the most promising of Lewisham’s sporting fraternity also get the opportunity to apply to elite universities and continue to show their brilliance in many disciplines.  Lewisham has many rising polymaths, very able students across a spectrum of subjects including a range of sports.

As an academy player I am an ambassador for sportsmanship.  We must display excellent values both on and off the pitch.  As an ambassador I will help to shift mindsets, educate, and explain why football is the greatest game on earth that can unify classes and bridge racial divides.  There is simply no room for racism in football.  There is no room for racism anywhere.  Together with a pledge from all academy footballers across the globe we the young will be instrumental in encouraging change and once again I urge you our   European leaders , policy change makers and friends to back me and other young sporting activists as we seek a level playing field for all.  With great privilege comes great responsibility and I sincerely thank Troy Townsend and Marcus Gayle from the Kick it Out Team for educating us all together last season on discrimination, racism, and prejudice within the game.  I look forward to working with them again in the near future.

In 2018 a Democracy review was undertaken by Cllr Bonavia, he established that young people wanted to contribute to democratic matters using social media platforms.  We have to utilise this generation to teach others about the various communication methods and share best practices.  Young people can seem inconclusive but with the right tools and mentors working alongside us we can change this perspective.  We need to continue tightening online safety and tackle cyber bullying vigorously.  Together we are more so let us continue to respect one another in order to achieve our goals.

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