The Alan Senitt Upstanders Leadership Programme
WHAT IS ASULP?
The Alan Senitt Upstanders Leadership Programme (ASULP) is a community schools linking leadership programme for Year 10 pupils of different faith, cultural and social background. This is a programme by The Alan Senitt Memorial Trust (reg. charity 117111), a charity dedicated to the memory of Alan Charles Senitt, murdered in Washington DC on 9th July 2006 whilst defending a friend. The programme was first established in 2008/9 and is managed and facilitated by Stand Up! and Streetwise, partnership projects between CST and Maccabi GB.
The Leadership Programme allows the participants to learn about each other; their different cultures, religions and communities and at the same time reflect on themselves and gain leadership skills that will benefit their local community and serve them throughout their lives. In 2018/19 the programme shifted its focus from community social action projects, to anti-discrimination community projects, becoming an ambassadors ‘Upstanders’ course for Stand Up! Education Against Discrimination.
There are currently 10 participating schools split into two tracks, each taking part in 4 day-long seminars between November and May hosted by the schools as well as weekly school-based sessions. Jewish schools Immanuel College, Yavneh College and JCoSS are part of the programme alongside Muslim Ayesha Community School in Hendon, Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Hayes and Watford Grammar School for Boys, Nower Hill High School in Pinner and Caterham School in Redbridge, which are comprehensive multi-faith schools with high cohort of minority groups. For 2019/20 King Solomon High in Redbridge and Hendon School are also joining the programme.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
At each of the 4 day-long seminars the 50 participants are split into mixed school groups and take part in workshops on community leadership, team building, volunteering, event management and, from this year, anti-discrimination training on the topics of Antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, discrimination against LGBT+, disability discrimination, racism in Sport as well as Online.
In the schools the participants organise weekly meetings and a team structure, create, plan and use the leadership skills gained, to implement their final anti-discrimination community projects. At the end of the academic year and once the community projects have been completed, the Leadership programme hosts a Graduation Ceremony for participants to showcase and present their work to co-leaders, parents, invited guests and all 100 students. The interfaith cross-communal programme allows the participants to learn about each other, their different cultures, religions and communities and at the same time reflect on themselves and their own responsibility to become ‘Upstanders’ in society, all whilst gaining leadership skills that will serve them throughout their lives. Over the past 10 years the Leadership programme has seen over 800 students graduate and complete social action projects for the benefit of their local communities.
The benefits of the programme become truly apparent at the Graduation Ceremony; here, the students are able to stand on stage and present their achievements, whilst also critically reflect about the challenges they faced in working with each other and the partner organisations. Every year the projects are incredibly impressive, there are well-crafted educational components delivered to the target audience (in school or to the partner organisations), and often fundraisers provide much needed support to the partners engaged.
PAST ASULP PROJECTS:
A hat collection of over 1,000 hats for Alopecia UK, alongside a school-wide educational campaign on the illness, highlighting the importance of inclusivity within the school community. (Hertfordshire)
An in-school fundraiser, leading to the purchase and refurbishment of a caravan which was shipped to a refugee camp in Calais full of non-perishable goods, alongside educational sessions in school about refugees. (Watford)
Provided boxes of sensory toys for young people in special needs schools, specifically for those with hearing loss or who were blind. £800 pounds to go towards the boxes was raised through fundraising. (Hayes)
Raised awareness about mental health in school by holding an assembly for each year group prior to a non-uniform day which was set to raise money. Each year group wore a specific colour on non-uniform day to represent a mental health illness. With the money raised, the students bought essentials to donate to a mental health hospital. The project was successful and attracted the attention of the local community including the Council Leader of Redbridge, Jas Athwal, who tweeted about the project. (Redbridge)
Students created a novel depicting young people with disabilities as superheroes. The book challenged negative stereotypes of people who have disabilities, highlighting the potential each person has. The novel will be shared in hospitals, schools and made available online. (Watford)
A number of educational sessions were run by students in their school to raise awareness about the life of young carers. Their interest in this topic came from knowing a number of young carers in their school who needed support. They worked with a local charity and held an interactive day of activities specifically for young carers, providing them with the opportunity to share their experiences whilst having fun. (Borehamwood)
Students at a Jewish school believed that the cause of discrimination is ignorance and lack of understanding about other religions and cultures. They therefore organised a day to visit a Muslim school, to meet younger students and talk to them about their religion and backgrounds, answering any questions the students had about Judaism. Students also had the chance to meet and speak to Muslim Faith leaders at the school. (Barnet)
Nower Hill School students raised awareness in their school about homelessness by running interactive educational sessions. They then raised money and bought needed items to donate to a local shelter. (Harrow)
GRADUATES BECOME LEADERS
The ASULP has far-reaching effects on the participants of the programme continuing a long time after graduation. Students will often take on leadership roles in their schools whether it be as Head Girl/Boy or by becoming a prefect. Outside of the school sphere many graduates reach a position of leadership in their local community and then further on at University. The skills needed to preside over religious societies or social action groups are rooted in the core of the ASULP. The safe space to share and learn about other cultures and traditions, alongside the practical skills learnt throughout the seminars have a clear impact on the participating students; young people with low confidence and poor self-esteem flourish within the programme and learn to assertively tackle the injustices they see around them. Students are also taught invaluable presentation skills, and are provided with an opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone.
Both the Stand Up! and Streetwise teams remain in contact with the students following graduation to provide them with social action and professional opportunities to further maintain their engagement. Furthermore, the graduates are encouraged to volunteer at events organised and run by The Alan Senitt Memorial Trust to raise funds towards the cost of providing the programme for future students. With the programme taking on the new focus of tackling discrimination, we hope that the graduates will utilise their skills to become anti-discrimination ambassadors in their schools, their communities and British society as a whole.