By Shaeron Yapp
“I want to make a difference to end child slavery all around the world – Emily, Age 12” was just one of inspiring pledges written by Year 7 students at the Thrive Event on 8 March 2017.
Thrive is the largest free youth conference in Australia, held at the Perth Convention Centre. The 2017 event hosted over 2,500 children – aged 11 to 12 – who heard from speakers covering a vast array of topics including resilience, authenticity, connection and courage.
During their lunch break, the children were encouraged to connect with local community services, educational support and sports providers in a fun and interactive learning zone, including the Scouts, Save the Children, Girl Guides and YMCA. It was a sight to behold, thousands of children enthusiastically running towards the different stands on mass!
The Walk Free Foundation team talked to the children about our work to end modern slavery around the world. They were shocked to hear that modern slavery continues to this day, even within Australia. Showing pictures from Grace Forrest’s trip to India, the Walk Free Foundation team explained that in some countries, children are forced to work in brick kilns so that their families can survive, instead of going to school and playing.
The children were encouraged to use their voices to speak out against slavery and sign their own “brick pledge”. By writing their own pledge on a foam bricks and stacking them together in a wall, this was a visual way for the children to see the strength of united voices – individually and collectively – demanding the end of slavery.
Over 150 pledges were made by the children, including:
“It’s not right. End it.” – Georgia
“Stop Slavery! Make our country better for everyone! No one deserves to be a slave. Save the children.” – Ayeesha
“Appreciate those who you don’t see, make a contribution” – Nikota
“We are all people and we all deserve to be treated equally” – Jade
We were inspired by the children’s enthusiasm, how quickly they understood the evil of modern slavery and how eager they were to stand against it. The children’s pledges will be turned into an artwork piece which we hope will encourage people of all ages that together, “we can be the generation that ends slavery”.