‘Next 20’ Ambassador gives Lancashire pupils the Lowe-down on discrimination
‘Next 20’ Ambassador and Blackburn Rovers midfielder Jason Lowe supported Kick It Out at an educational workshop on Tuesday (26 April) at Langho St. Leonard’s Church of England Primary School in Ribble Valley.
Jason joined Paul Mortimer, Kick It Out’s Professional Players Engagement Manager, at the Lancashire primary school to discuss the importance of tackling discrimination with Year 4, 5 and 6 pupils.
The afternoon began with a workshop delivered to the young students about the work that Kick It Out does to tackle inequality within football. Paul discussed the organisation’s core messages and focused on developing an understanding around key terms such as equality, inclusion and discrimination.
Paul explained what his objectives were in delivering the workshop to the pupils: “My role was just to stop them in their tracks, and encourage them to think about discrimination in a different way and understand what it really means.
“It’s probably the first time they’ve had the chance to properly consider it and you could see the discomfort around some of the words and terminologies. But I felt that enabling them to discuss freely what they thought was a huge positive.”
Paul emphasised how happy he was with the response from the pupils.
“I thought it went really well,” he said. “The pupils were fantastic – they engaged with the process and made it easy because they know a lot more than people think.”
After listening intently to the messages delivered in the workshop, Jason joined Paul to discuss his experience of discrimination with the pupils and explain how it motivated him to get involved with Kick It Out.
Jason was on the pitch during a notorious England Under-21’s fixture in October 2012, during which England’s black players suffered a number of incidents of racial abuse. The Serbian FA was fined £65,000 and the country was given a one-match spectator ban.
“It was the main reason that I wanted to get on board after seeing what happened over there with certain players,” Jason reflected. “Paul asked me to become an ambassador so I wanted to get involved to help spread the word about Kick It Out and raise people’s awareness of the organisation, because there’s no room for discrimination in sport.
“In society it still happens so people do need to be educated and made more aware. Actions need to be taken when it influences people in a negative way.”
After hearing from Jason about the importance of challenging discrimination, pupils were given the chance to ask him questions of their own before the ‘Next 20’ Ambassador completed the session by lining up for photos with the group.
Jason praised the work that Paul and Kick It Out are doing to educate the next generation and highlighted the impact it can have on impressionable young pupils.
“Paul does a great job in educating the pupils, raising awareness and trying to give them the right tools to tackle any forms of discrimination,” he said. “Doing my bit as a ‘Next 20’ ambassador to back up his work is important.
Jason continued: “The pupils are at an age where they might see discrimination, hear it or experience it so the earlier you can get in there and give them an idea about what is and isn’t acceptable, the better.
“As a young child there are certain grey areas around discrimination and I think Paul’s doing a great job in making it crystal clear and opening them up to what’s fact. Today’s a great learning curve for them.”
Paul echoed Jason’s sentiment: “I think the work we do is crucial because some of these young people are like a blank canvas and can be influenced by certain things that they witness, experience and see on TV. It’s important for organisations like us to go into schools and give the kids a chance to discuss their experiences openly and not fear judgement or reprisals.
“Some will say things which could be offensive or discriminatory but it’s about making them aware of what they’re saying and more importantly the reasons why, because often they’re told why it’s wrong, but it’s never explained them in a language they can understand.”