Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Is Harry giving kids the right direction?

Role model? One Direction's Harry Styles
Role model? One Direction's Harry Styles

Last week I had the pleasure of talking to a great group of 11-year-olds on the Shankill Road.

They had voluntarily taken part in a week-long programme designed to help them in their move from primary school to 'big' school.

I was asked to give them an inspirational talk. When I started, one wee lad just kept saying, "Be funny, just be funny!"

So much for planning to inspire.

In the end we had a bit of fun. I said a few things that they actually listened to and they had certificates and goody bags and photographs.

Education has traditionally not been prized in that area and the work being done by adults there in the past few years to enable young people to do well in life is fantastic.

I was touched by how children are sponges. They soak up what's around them. For better or for worse.

When I told them they'd be the Class of 2020 when they get their A Levels, one boy said he'd party all night. Two others, a wee boy and a wee girl, tiny kids, said, "I'll get drunk".

This is what they see from their pop star "role models" like One Direction as being the reward for doing well. I hope they find other directions too.

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