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Croydon artist aims to tackle gun and knife crime by making a change to UK Educational Curriculum

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 by Aishah Mehmood (reporter for the Croydon Peace Tree)

Croydon artist and anti gun and knife campaigner Valerie Beddington-Hooker is trying to promote a unique project. A project she wishes to embed within the national educational curriculum, through her paintings entitled 'Disarming Innocence'. The aim is to educate and bring a rise of discussion and debate within all classrooms throughout the UK on the issues of gun and knife crime.

'Disarming Innocence' was recently exhibited at the House of Lords in October. The paintings resonated many positive responses, to which, Richard Ottaway, MP of Croydon South hoped "many young people will have the opportunity to see them and reflect on the powerful messages".The thought-provoking paintings reveal the brutal truth of life on the streets. Loosely based on the Stations of the Cross, its fifteen metres in length and in the form of a Medieval Altar piece.

Horrified by the levels of gun and knife crime affecting many young people today, Valerie explains that "our society has serious issues to deal with and my series of paintings are a tool which can be used to raise awareness amongst young people of the terrible dangers that exist today. If only one life is saved as a result of this work, it will have served its purpose". In this case, art is not distanced from the public, by being hung only in art galleries, but rather art hopes to inspire students in the classroom to reflect upon issues that affect our society. Supported on the project by Brigitte Landon who has twenty-five years experience in Education and Public relations, Valerie intends to make the exhibition available to all schools, community colleges and educational establishments within the UK. The aim is to also develop and provide a teaching package, which would be age appropriate for seven and thirteen year olds. This package includes a DVD based on the sequence, utilising animation and music to engage and influence young people. Another possibility is to also develop a fully interactive website, which would provide a mechanism for young people who might be at risk of gun and knife crime, to confidentially seek support if they need to. 

The project hopes to partner with other organisations to combat issues that affect gun and knife crime, as well as making the package available to them. At the present moment, Valerie is currently seeking support and guidance from individuals within parliament and the educational community to make this project possible. As the project will be run on a 'not for profit basis', funding is desperately needed.

Valerie asks for your support in making this project a possibility. For more information on Valerie and 'Disarming Innocence' please visit the following links: www.valeriebeddingtonhooker.co.uk/

 www.facebook.com/DisarmingInnocenceNoToGunAndKnifeCrime

Croydon artist aims to tackle gun and knife crime by making a change to UK Educational Curriculum


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