Guest post by volunteer, Hannah.
Friendships formed, faith encounters, a boat load of pizza
On the last Saturday of Interfaith Week, 60 young people from four different schools, along with a host of helpers, gather together at Broadway Academy for a day of challenges and interfaith discussions. A very cold start to the morning, and a distinct lack of coffee had some youth workers – cough, Steve – moaning before anything had even happened. Thankfully the moods lifted when busloads of eager young people started to arrive!
Following registration, and a quick introduction to the running order of the day, everyone spilt into their groups and started with getting to know you games and icebreakers. The groups were made up of participants from each of the participating schools – Handsworth Wood Girls, Eden Boys (Muslim), King Solomon International Business School (Christian), and of course our hosts for the day, Broadway Academy. Following this, everyone joined in a morning of indoor games. Teams competed against each other in the helium stick challenge, battled it out in a quiz, and tangled and unknotted themselves, all whilst racing against the clock to win points.
Lunch arrived, and brought with it the biggest pizza delivery ever seen! This helped kick start the time of faith talks, and groups were introduced to the Guidelines for Dialogue. This lead to some fantastic conversations, in which the young people started to discuss what their faiths meant to them, and how they would start to explain it to friends at school. They also started to think about how they could engage respectfully and effectively with their peers and friends from different backgrounds and other faiths. These conversations carried on until the start of the afternoon sessions, and will hopefully carry on into the homes and schools of all those who took part.
Once the huge amounts of pizza consumed had settled, the sports games got underway. Some were outside, which proved a bit cool to start with! Jill had the teams run around with balloons between their knees in a relay race, which proved an effective solution to the cold. In the sports hall, Mica headed-up a series of challenges with hockey sticks and a lot of running about. Cheers could be heard throughout the corridors! The day ended in a closing ceremony, with each young person receiving a medal of participation. The winning team was rewarded with copious amounts of chocolate.
As with all of The Feast’s youth encounters, the aim of the day was to bring together people who never would have had the opportunity to meet, to start friendships and most importantly to encourage interaction with different faith perspectives amongst its participants. By all accounts the day was a great success; the young people loved it, and a great time was had by all. Some even exchanged phone numbers to continue on with their new friendships once the day was over. A highlight of the day was watching Mica engage with teachers from the different schools, to explain the guidelines for dialogue and host an informal faith discussion amongst the adults over lunch.
In addition to these rave reviews, the teachers sent along by the participating schools left really impressed, and now all schools have asked for follow up and repeat events; in particular two of the faith schools are now seeking to do work together with the support of the Feast!
This being my first experience of an actual Feast event, I was curious as to what the day would have in store. Being on placement with the team so far meant a lot of behind the scenes involvement, and so I was very excited when an opportunity arose to be a part of one of the events I’d heard so much about. Seeing people from a variety of faiths and backgrounds come together for a day of fun was such an encouragement. The hard work the team put in to enabling inclusion and ensure everyone involved had as best a time they could was so great to witness. My only grumble of the day was sitting at the reception desk so early, next to an open door!! My fingers took days to thaw out!