It is not every day you find yourself centre stage closing a prestigious conference, The Children’s Media Conference no less, but that is exactly where members of Show Me That I Matter, Shelly and Natasha found themselves this July 2017 at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield.
They were invited to share their youth driven projects about the care experience with delegates made up of children’s television commissioners, producers and directors as well as a range of freelancers, app makers, website makers and creatives.
First Shelly challenged negative stereotypes about young people in care;
“I want to talk to you about the representation of Children in Care in the media – in the papers on the television and through film. You see without doubt the messages that are portrayed are negative, and I do see the importance of highlighting those very horrifying statistics and messages. It makes society stop and it challenges organisations and policy makers to do something about it.
What you may not realise is the message that gave to me and thousands of other young people like me, children in care and care leavers of all ages.
You see I’ve never wanted to be that statistic , that number but it made me question my hopes , my dreams and my aspirations for a better me , for a better future.”
She continued powerfully;
“Negative portrayals encourage judgment and ignorance, they make us question who we can share our world with.
Would they think it was my fault I was in care?
Would their parents think I’m a bad influence?
Or would they not know how to take me?
Would they ask…“Is it like Tracy Beaker”? And “What did you do so wrong”?
So yes highlighting those statistics through media is important but for me so is highlighting the positives.”
Natasha then silenced the room reading her poem before challenging delegates with these words;
“Mental health is a hugely topical area at the minute and rightly so but amongst the generalised statistics did you see the one that says 70% of children in Care have a diagnosed mental health issue …
… have you ever stopped and wondered why?
I’m going to ask you to try and imagine what its like to walk in our shoes for just a few minutes.
Imagine how you would feel …… if you were taken from your family and all you have known and asked to live with a stranger?
Imagine how you would feel …… if you were not able to see your little brother for another 3 weeks, the one you played with every night and read a story too?
Imagine how you would feel….. if suddenly the worker you knew, who you trusted and had shared everything with suddenly left and you had to repeat it all again , to a stranger?
It’s hard to imagine, but that’s why projects such as Aspire to More and A Care Story are so important.
They tell our story how we want it to be told, they give us a platform they allow us to be heard”
The young people did an amazing job on the day under such pressure showing a professional attitude and speaking with power and inspiration!
A video of the presentation is being edited by the conference, please watch for updates to see the presentation for yourself!