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HMDT blog: HMD Youth Champion Day 2017 – Josh Whatsize

On Saturday 18 March HMDT hosted its annual HMD Youth Champion Day in Manchester, bringing together young people from across the UK to reflect on their work marking HMD 2017 and looking forward to next year.

HMDT blog: HMD Youth Champion Day 2017 – Josh Whatsize

With discussions, survivor testimony and creative activities, young people shared their inspiring ideas for Holocaust and genocide commemoration and education. In this blog for HMDT, Lead Youth Champion Josh Whatsize reflects on the day.

The HMD Youth Champion Day 2017 saw us head up to Manchester to celebrate the fantastic work being done by Youth Champions up and down the country. From Holocaust survivors talking at Universities to a variety of creative projects, this was an opportunity to show survivors that their stories are powerfully important, and that we, as young people, will continue to remember and learn from their experiences. We heard of the work the HMD Youth Champion Board have carried out and the individual projects they have all been working so hard on over the past year.

What made this particular year special was a mixture of current Youth Champions and individuals who came for the very first time, inspired by the work being done and the desire to commemorate the Holocaust and genocide in the future. We all spent time discussing the theme for 2018, which is being announced on 5 April to the public. Attendees were impressed by the theme and ideas were flowing as we thought about remembrance activity ideas for 2018.

Youth Champions then looked at the shortlisted designs for the UK Holocaust Memorial which is planned to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens next to Parliament. You can view the designs and let the panel know your thoughts here!

Over lunch we talked with survivor of the Holocaust Martin Stern, Bosnian survivor Kemal Pervanic and Rwandan survivor Eric Murangwa Eugène MBE. This was a chance for all to hear their stories and to tell them about the work they have been doing in their communities.

After lunch Kemal and Martin spoke powerfully about what happened to them during the Bosnian genocide and the Holocaust. The room fell silent for an hour and half, all transfixed and left inspired by both Kemal and Martins poignant stories. Hearing from them put into perspective the work we all do to commemorate, remember and ultimately motivating us to do more and to inspire our generation and future generations to come. 

The day ended with the group reflecting on the stories told and how we as individuals and as a collective can make a powerful difference in our communities, as well as playing a part in combating hatred, celebrating diversity and how we can use the stories and horrors of the past to educate, remember and learn from.

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