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10,000 Lewisham pupils support City Safe Havens
TEN thousand pupils from across Lewisham borough are expected to back an anti-youth crime campaign launched by one 16-year-old girl.
The brainchild of Prendergast Ladywell Fields College pupil Camilla Yahaya, the 10,000 Hands campaign started last Friday.
It will eventually see youngsters from every single school in the borough come together, spelling out the words City Safe Haven - a charity which helps safeguard young people - in an event to be filmed by the Met police helicopter.
Each pupil will also add a hand print to a 500m cloth which will then be taken to City Hall and Downing Street in what the youngsters describe as a "message of hope".
Camilla, who set up the award-winning youth group Young Citizens in 2009, told News Shopper: "It's about young people working together to make Lewisham and London a safer place and a bigger community."
She said the organisers behind the project had received backing from Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Labour leader Ed Miliband in recent days.
The teenager said: "This helps strengthen relationships between schools. It's what a community should be doing and setting an example for other schools to follow."
She said: "I was really proud to see it launched. To build it was really something."
Though violent youth crime appears to have decreased in recent years, recent events like the stabbing of a 14-year-old boy outside the Ladywell Centre in Dressington Avenue has shown more needs to be done.
Camilla added: "We know knife crime isn't going to stop overnight.
"But the more people who get involved and the more people get to know about the issues and the people that have lost their lives, the more we can help send a message that we won't accept it."
Launch day saw schools attending a day of events at Catford town hall with workshops run by organisations including Second Wave and the Jimmy Mizen Foundation - set up in memory of the Lee teenager who was murdered in 2008.
Brother Bill Mizen, aged 32, said: "It's really special that all the secondary schools in Lewisham have come together and got involved.
"This is about making Lewisham a safer place and making younger people feel more secure."
To find out more about the project, visit facebook.com/10000Hands
City Safe is a campaign organised by charities Citizens UK and London Citizens.
It grew out of the loss of 12 young lives across London and is dedicated to Jimmy Mizen.
Visit citizensuk.org for details.