Waltham Forest Guardian – 17 September 2010


Schoolchildren open speakers’ corner

Schoolchildren are standing up for local issues after the city’s second speakers’ corner was unveiled in Stoneydown Park today (September 17).

To mark its launch, children from Stoneydown Park Primary School in Pretoria Avenue, Walthamstow, gave opinions on subjects which included animal cruelty, bullying, and knife crime across the borough.

Mary Anne Capes, 10, also confronted the problems no free swimming for under 16s in the borough will have on children’s health.

Mohammed Ali, 10, raised issues about the increase in knife crime asking when it was going to stop.

He said: “More teenagers are carry knives because they feel unsafe – more teenagers are being killed.”

The Speakers’ Corner is a £30,000 project designed by students from Central St Martins College of Art and Design.

It is the first to open since the speakers’ corner in Hyde Park was unveiled almost 150 years ago.

And it was built just in time for its first session in a joint effort between Waltham Forest Council and contractors Mitre Construction.

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy said: “We know that people from Walthamstow have very strong opinions.

“For young people, this is a chance for them to talk about challenges in the area – a chance for them to be heard.”

James O’Rouke, chairman of the Stoneydown Speakers’ Corner Committee, said: “This space is going to be for multiple use, not just a speakers’ corner.

“We saw from rehearsals children used it for a place to play – a place to sit and eat lunch.”

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