Sixth formers from Clapton Girls Academy and Prendergast Ladywell Fields College, Lewisham, are in Florida this week participating in the 2012 US elections.
The students were chosen as part of the Act Inspired US project, set up by The Transformation Trust, that offered 12 students from state schools across the UK, the chance to campaign alongside professionals in the lead up to the US elections on November 6.
Antonia Farrow, who is the Schools Project and Liaison manager for the Transformation Trust, told EastLondonLines that the young people had been assigned randomly to the two campaigns.
“Four schools have gone out there. Two schools were allocated to the Obama campaign and two for Romney’s. Michael Gove announced it, there wasn’t- to my knowledge- a process or particular reason for the decision. All the schools wanted to be Democrat but I think they will get a lot from going on the Republican campaign.”
Working on the Romney campaign, Jamiah Okoye from Clapton Girls Academy, tweeted: “for my US trip I have to campaign for the reds, whether I want to or not :/ so for now I’m pro mitt!”
The pupils flew to Tampa, Florida early on Sunday morning and have begun campaigning alongside members of both the Democrat and Republican parties.
Clapton Girls Academy pupils said: “This project has given us a gateway into the world of American politics. We have met so many incredible people, from war veterans to a congressman and every day we see something that makes us understand the importance of politics and how it effects everyone.
“We’re not just acting inspired, we are inspired and can’t wait to impart our newfound political awareness to our whole community so everyone can get involved in this amazing project!”
Ladywell pupils added: “This has already been the most amazing experience our lives, we are working to get a President re-elected, in one of the two states that decides the election; learning skills, meeting people that are changing our lives forever.
“This is only day two, I have no idea what I will have done, who I will have met and where I will have been by the end of these 14 days. Thanks so much to the Transformation Trust and E-ACT for this amazing opportunity.”
Jamiah Okoye, tweeted: “Had a great day campaigning! Met congressmen Gus Bilirakis and spoke to a few Vietnam and Korean veterans.”
Ruth Lyons, also from Clapton Girls Academy, tweeted: “Looking forward to pounding the streets of Tampa, talking to locals and getting people into the polling station today!
“I hope to share all the knowledge I gain from this amazing experience throughout my school so that the benefits will last a lifetime.”
Pupils from Prendergast Ladywell Fields College, working on the Obama campaign, have attracted attention from Janet Royall, Labour’s Leader in the House of Lords, who tweeted ‘@youngCitizens I’m supporting Camilla + Rianna, brilliant young women, working with the Obama campaign in the US’.
Following 10 days in Florida, the students will fly to Washington for three days to meet with campaign advisors and journalists and visit a local high school.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, who launched the project last month at a ceremony in Parliament, praised the work of The Transformation Trust. He said: “It is crucial that alongside a first class academic education, pupils look to gain employability skills through work experience and volunteering.
The young people I met are already working extremely hard in their local communities, schools and academies and this experience will help them refine their campaigning expertise to make a real difference not only for their lives but others around them.”
by Sarah Howell