'Stop hate' - The poem that won an anti-prejudice award
- Credit: Education
A Norfolk student has won a prize for her powerful poem on overcoming prejudice in communities, after she was moved by an account of someone experiencing discrimination.
Elizabeth Stickland, a student from Attleborough Academy, won the UK category of the Stronger Than Hate challenge organised by the University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation and company Discovery Education.
She picked up the top prize in the category after impressing US-based judges with her poem about how communities can overcome prejudice, winning a £5,000 grant for her school and an iPad.
The annual challenge, which aims to empower children to tackle hate within their communities, asked students to submit a creative project such as a video, poem, song, blog or piece of art, to show why "united communities are stronger".
The USC Shoah Foundation, which was set up after the making of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, collects audio and visual testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocides around the world, to preserve their stories for future generations.
Students taking part in the Stronger Than Hate challenge were encouraged to listen to these stories and to produce a piece of work which reflects the power of the stories and to help address hate.
The Year 8 student's poem, which touches on religion, race, identity and discrimination, calls on people to "stop hate".
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She said: “I was delighted to learn that I had won the UK Stronger Than Hate challenge.
"Testimony shaped my poem and my views, it allowed the victim's voice to be spoken, to be heard.”
Two other students from the UK were also awarded prizes.
Lori McFarling, president of social impact at Discovery Education said: “We are proud to partner with USC Shoah Foundation to elevate student voices and promote understanding and diversity.
"Congratulations to each of the 2021 Stronger Than Hate challenge winners and thank you for your inspirational work to make the world a more equitable place.”
The USC Shoah Foundation has more than 55,000 video testimonies in its Visual History Archive.
Elizabeth Stickland's poem:
Hate; an intense hostility,
Running rampant in our world,
Empathy seems a distant possibility,
As the worst of human nature is unfurled,
The pain, the fear, the loneliness,
Evil words spoken by an ignorant tongue,
The heavy burden of unworthiness,
Bearing down upon the old and young,
Believers berated by a vicious onslaught,
Their places of worship defaced,
By people lacking a single thought,
For the faith they have displaced,
Discriminated against because of their races,
Put down, sneered at,
For simply showing their faces,
Treated worse than a rabid rat,
Those hated for looking different,
Those hurt for acting ‘unusual’,
Looks are insignificant,
If the heart itself isn't beautiful,
Genocides, shootings, killings,
Tearing communities apart,
Destroying countless buildings,
Breaking too many hearts,
People mocked for who they love,
Insulted for their identity,
By people who are convinced they're above,
And can torment others endlessly,
Yet young people are still asked,
“Why so much anxiety?
Teenage years are such a blast.’
Take another look at our society.
And as the months pass by,
It gets harder to deny,
The sheer number of people who can relate,