School children from Sunderland are taking part in a series of workshops to highlight the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
The It’s Your Choice project will involve nearly 200 kids from the Sunderland area learning about the impact of crime and vandalism on their local community. Fire, road and railway safety are also covered.
Safety on local bus services is one of the key themes during the workshops with a particular focus on the dangers of stone throwing, Metro trespassing and hoax calls.
Nexus is running the project in partnership with Northumbria Police, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Go North East, Sunderland Partnership, Gentoo and the North East Ambulance Service.
The pupils get to perform a play and write and sing their own rap song about anti-social behaviour issues. The aim is for them to learn how choices and actions can lead to a series of consequences, which can be fatal and result in prosecution.
An ambulance, a fire appliance, police cars and a bus will be there for the children to see up close and to sit inside. They will get the chance to meet officers and staff and learn the importance of these vehicles and their use in the community.
A similar scheme is already being run in Liverpool. Nexus and its local authority partners are keen to see if it will be just as successful in Wearside as it has been on Merseyside.
Nexus Schools Liaison Officer, Sam Keith, said: “This project is a creative way for the children to learn about the consequences of anti-social behaviour on public transport and in the wider community.
“The workshop activities are designed to engage with the kids and to make them think about the issues. It’s important that they also have fun. The play and the rap songs they have to come up with combine the two perfectly and they will learn a great deal.”
Neighbourhood Inspector John Connolly, said: "Anti-social behaviour is often an issue that is raised with police as being one which causes the most concern to our communities, despite the number of incidents reported to police having fallen.
"Whilst the majority of young people aren't involved in anti-social behaviour, events like this provide an excellent opportunity for us to work with schoolchildren and raise awareness of the consequences of behaving anti-socially and how it affects other people.
As part of its force-wide ‘It's good to know’ campaign, Northumbria Police will be at various venues giving the community the opportunity to get to know their local Neighbourhood Policing Team and hear about what they are doing to tackle anti-social behaviour.”
Martin Harris, Commercial Director with Go North East said: “We’re delighted to be able to play an active role in the workshops and help youngsters understand the dangerous consequences of irresponsible behaviour such as throwing stones or other missiles at buses. Working with youngsters in this innovative way is an effective way of getting our message across and this kind of incident eliminated.”
Group Manager, John Allison, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is a great opportunity to work with children and young people to help them understand the consequences of antisocial behaviour, creating a safer community in Sunderland as a result. We hope they will enjoy the experience and gain new skills at the same time.”
Alan Caddick, Head of Housing at Sunderland City Council, said: “We are happy to support this event and anything that will spread the word on the perils of anti-social behaviour. We look forward to working in partnership in the future to ensure that the outcomes from this event are maximised.”
Gayle White, Customer Care Manager for North East Ambulance Service, said: “We already do a lot of work with schools in educating children about the work that we do. When Nexus organised this event, we were delighted to support them. It’s important that children also have fun as this helps them to learn and we all hope this event is a success.”