Young people across East Ayrshire bring Light to the Darkness on Holocaust Memorial Day

At Loudoun Academy, young people from S1 explored this year’s theme ‘Be the light in the darkness’ as part of their online learning in social subjects. Led by Mrs McLaughlin, Acting PT of Social Subjects, the young people used their knowledge of the historical period to interpret evidence and present an informed view. They studied groups who have experienced inequality and action that has been taken to address this inequality globally.

The young people also learned key skills and strategies to support them during challenging times, particularly in relation to change and loss. They created candles of hope and shared stories about the people in their lives who have helped create light, particularly during the pandemic.

Jack from S1 wrote - “Light up the darkness. I would like to take this moment to try light peoples’ weeks because we aren’t getting to see loved ones and friends and it’s a hard time but let’s look to when this is all going to be done and think of it this way.. you are getting to spend time with mums and dads and when it’s all done we will get to see everyone so let’s be happy and all stay safe.”

Another young person wrote - “My mum is my light in the darkness. She is the one I chose to be on my candle of hope because she helps me and my siblings every day. Now because of Covid she has to help us do home school by herself cause my dad is at work. She is going from an S1 to a P6 to a P1 and sometimes an S4 teacher. She is the best mum ever.”

At Doon Academy Mrs Nicol, PT of Social Subjects, worked closely with Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce on their plans to recognise Holocaust Memorial Day. The Chamber had helped to create a video about the life of Martin Anson, told by his son Steven, who escaped Nazi persecution eventually settling in Glasgow. The incredible, and very moving, video was shared with our young people and is still available to watch online

The young people also worked on a task called ‘Why Remember’, which challenged them to consider conflict and the consequences for society then and now.

At Park School, secondary pupils watched a live Holocaust survivor webcast as part of their recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “I felt that it was very important to share the work our young people having being carrying out at home and in school in recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day. This year’s theme – ‘Be the light in the darkness’ really hit a chord. It gave our teachers the opportunity to lead our young people through the terrible pain and suffering caused by Holocausts across the world while helping them to find ways to cope with the darkness they experience in their own lives.

“The candles of hope created by our young people, their artwork and their kind words about the important people in their lives, is very inspiring. My wonderful family and my beloved dog Teddy, brings light to the darkness and I am very grateful to them all.

“Amanda Gorman read one of her poems at Joe Biden’s inauguration. She said: “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.” Let’s all be brave and light the way for those around us who are struggling at this very difficult time.”

Clare Maitland, Cabinet Member for Equalities, Inclusion and Poverty said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is a time to remember the six million people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and now Myanmar. Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims have been described by the United Nations as the most discriminated people in the world and the action of Myanmar’s army as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’.

“Each year the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust choose a theme and this year’s theme ‘Be the light in the darkness’ provided an opportunity to reflect on the terrible tragedies that have occurred but also the ways we can resist as individuals and communities. ’Be the light in the darkness’ is a call to action for all of us.

“Despite the pandemic, our schools have continued to show their support for Holocaust Memorial Day and I am very grateful to our teachers, parents and carers. Education is key to ensuring that our young people have a path to follow, one that is well lit and never returns to darkness. We all have a role to play, we all have to be brave and do what we can to challenge inequality and persecution.”