It’s all about them

As part of the Children’s Lives project, I became involved with the section of the exhibition that was curated by two groups of Year 8 pupils from local Birmingham schools, Four Dwellings High School and Waverley School. The aim of this part of the project was to introduce young people’s voices into the archive by recording and documenting their lives. The material created and gathered was then displayed alongside examples from the city’s archive collection. It seemed to take on particular importance after last summer’s riots and the perpetuation of negative stereotyping of young people and I felt really lucky to have been able to work with these young people.

Task-driven working groups were established, designed to give the participating pupils an insight into different skills and professions:
Recorders – to record oral histories, undertake interviews and produce social documentary photography
Curators – to curate, plan and organise the exhibition
Archives – to catalogue material for the project archive
Communicators – to promote the project by writing a blog, by informing the rest of their schools about the project and by organising the exhibition launch
I worked with the Curators and they decided to present their archive in the form of a young person’s bedroom, typically the place they go to escape.

I recently wrote an evaluation report for the project which allowed me to reflect on what we could have done better but also to appreciate how much the students achieved and the positive impact it had on them. Hopefully the project is sustainable and the archive can continue to encourage the inclusion of young peoples’ voices and stories.