Belfast Telegraph

Rosetta Primary pupils play a role in fighting child poverty

By Dave Whelan

TWO south Belfast youngsters have played a "starring role" in an initiative to raise awareness of child poverty across Northern Ireland.

James Howard and Ryan Morgan, both aged 11 and of Rosetta Primary School, were the only actors to appear in one of three short films launched by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) as part of its 'Think Again about Human Rights' campaign.

The boys act as two school children going about their normal routine but highlighting the daily struggles of one of the children struggling with poverty, with examples such as not having football boots to play in the park, not being able to go on the school trip and not having electricity to complete his homework.

Paul Howard, father of James said: "Raising awareness of child poverty is so important because it's something that we all can so easily look over and not something that many people are aware of as we go about our daily lives.

"While it may be crippling to the child to not have the same kit as everyone else, or the extra few pound for the school trip or books, as adults its too easy to let these little things go unnoticed and allow them to slip under the net.

"Thankfully for the most part kids are a lot more accepting in their early age and that's why we are proud of the two boys for putting on such a great performance to help raise awareness," he added.

Child poverty costs the UK an average £29 billion per year and it was an election promise of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to end child poverty by 2012.

Two other short animated films were launched at the event focussing on the work of NIHRC and the rights of persons with disabilities and can be viewed on the Commission's website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

NIHRC chief commissioner Michael O'Flaherty said that human rights were about a lot more than many people realised. "Levels of child poverty in Northern Ireland are unacceptable. What many people don't seem to appreciate is that these levels also undermine the human rights of those children. Similarly every person living with a disability has the right to a life of autonomy and dignity and nobody will disagree about how far we have to go to achieve that.

"That's what these films are about. They challenge every one of us to 'think again' about what it takes to deliver for the human rights of the people of Northern Ireland."

Sharon Morgan, Ryan's mother, said the video had really hit home and that she would like it to reach a wider audience. "The aim of this video and the slogan is 'think again' and it works so well because it does make you think again and lets the minor things hit home. Me and my husband Aodhan are both football coaches with Sirocco Youth and with the little things like collecting subs and the kit the kids need, it's easy to overlook the situation that some kids in Northern Ireland are struggling through on a daily basis. We are delighted that James and Ryan have been able to get involved in such a worthy cause at such a young age and hopefully make a difference and make people think again."

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