Sometimes one must swim against the tide, disrupt the system and create a change that has passion at its core. That is exactly what Founder Ruth Ibegbuna did when she handed over the baton to a group of 8 young people and told them to build the school they dreamed of when they were younger, the school they dreamed of for their siblings and for the young people of the future. Constantly reminding us that we have what it takes, mentoring us to our greatest potential and allowing our individual and collective leadership to flourish. It takes a very special person to believe in the power of young people, to allow 8 young people to take over a funding bid like a child with a colouring book and create a unique yet beautiful masterpiece. It takes an incredible leader to hand over the reins and allow young people to shine.
From the very first meeting it became apparent that this school needed to be built by young people, that not only did young people need to be at the heart, but they needed to be in the very air that we breathe and pumped through our bloodstream . Many of the 8 Trustees are still going through education, so almost instantly we began to find a common understanding of what the young people of South Manchester needed. We understood the failings of the current education system and as we all sat around an extremely large table after evacuating our first meeting room due to a fire alarm, we began to discuss the parts of education that change us, the parts that made us fall in love with the power of knowledge and the parts that nourished our soul. Those parts were to do with the teachers, the cleaners, the community of a school and then and there we understood that one of the most important factors of Rekindle had to be community, the relationships we had already built in South Manchester and the relationships we were about to build, the parents, the teachers, the friends. We understood things that only young people could understand, we created visions and plans that only young people could create and with the help of two incredible elders we saw Rekindle School become all of our dreams.
Almost a year since our first meeting and suffocated by a pandemic we have managed to build and to dream, to hope and flourish. What does it look like behind the scenes? It’s writing funding bids until 2am, sitting on Zoom calls straight after university lectures, paperwork on top of paperwork and then the fun begins when creating visions and having discussions but the true reward is family, as a group of 8 young people and 2 elders we have brought one another through hard times, through the highs and lows of building a school and through the success and failures. We have constantly reminded ourselves and each other of our ability, of the community who needs our help and of the shoulder we will always offer. So if I take anything away from being one of the 10 people who built Rekindle, it’ll be that I also built a family that will continue to grow and we continue to create a better and more hopeful education. Building through a pandemic has been extremely difficult, but this pandemic has allowed us all to reflect, to improvise and to re-evaluate what really needs to happen, education will never be the same again and it is important that our young people are not stripped of their ability to dream, achieve and succeed and so swimming against the tide may be unconventional, it may be difficult and tiring but if the reward is that our young people can be given an education that inspires, nurtures and values them, then it’s time we all swim together.