Premiere for Hackney Youth Parliament US democracy documentary

OVER 150 invited guests including young people and special guests, councillors Rita Krishna and Feryal Demirci, turned out for the film premiere of Freedom and Choices: Hackney Youth Parliament Does US Democracy at the Town Hall on Friday (3 July 2009).

Last October, seven members of Hackney Youth Parliament visited America to study the US Presidential election campaign, experiencing the democratic process first hand.

The documentary records the young people’s experiences and interpretation of cultural and election history in Washington DC. The film is part of their sharing of the experience to help motivate other members of HYP and promote democracy and voting among young people in the borough.

The event included an exhibition of photographs, showing highlights from the visit and the young people in action whilst working alongside young activists on the campaign trail in Virginia.

There was also an open forum debate with the HYP delegation answering questions about the elections and the role of the Youth Parliament, also what they had learned from their visit to the US.

They talked about their various activities since returning to Hackney in November, and explained how they continue to work to promote active citizenship and address the apathy amongst young people that acts as a barrier to their involvement in the political process.

Jolade Olusanya, 19, member for Stoke Newington, said: “For us, it’s not just that we were there when history was being made, we hope the film will encourage young people in Hackney to think about politics and how they can get involved and influence the democratic processes over here.”

The documentary was a great success and received with a rousing round of applause. Some of the audience whooped and cheered in appreciation of the film work by the HYP delegation in association with Hackney-based organisation Mouth That Roars.

Speaking during the open forum debate, Councillor Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The film does a great job to attract and encourage young people to get involved in politics. It also conveys so much about what it means to work hard to achieve goals. Congratulations to Hackney Youth Parliament on a great piece of work and activities over recent months. You are shaping things for the rest of the country.”

The evening was rounded off by a celebration dinner and an energetic showcase performance for the audience.

The event was presented by HYP with support from the Council’s Youth Participation Team.