Our first summer encounter in Luton was held at Stockwood Park Academy with current students who were joined by young people from St Mary’s Church. We focused on stereotypes and discussed positive and negative stereotypes to do with faith, culture, gender, and other identities. Young people from Christian, Muslim and agnostic backgrounds shared their frustrations and fears about being stereotyped – as the “Muslim terrorist”, “complicated girl” or “homophobic Christian”.
There was a group photo challenge which let the young people relax and get creative (and have a little laugh!) before having heavier conversations in pairs and in ever-changing groups. Even though many of them didn’t know each other before the encounter, there was lots of honest conversation about why we stereotype and how people are impacted when we perpetuate and believe stereotypes.
The young people enjoyed hanging out with people who are different to them, different genders, faiths, ethnicities, cultures, and ages. Sometimes we use these differences to stereotype each other, but by getting to know one another and creating a space to talk, the misunderstandings, fears and misinformation that create stereotypes can be turned into meaningful discussions and friendships. Let’s have more of those.