On Wednesday 11 July, the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, part of the Royal British Legion, hosted around 750 young people from schools across the country for the Thank You Youth Festival, celebrating the invaluable contributions of the First World War generation and paying tribute to their legacy. The Festival featured a wide variety of cross-curricular workshops exploring the radical social and technological changes that occurred during the conflict.
The students took part in a wide range of activities, including being put through their paces by a ‘Sergeant Major’ on a First World War assault course, working alongside artists to learn how dazzle camouflage confounded u-boats, and uncovering personal stories about the contributions made by minority ethnic soldiers.
Each participating school was able to compile a customised programme of activities for their students. The day culminated with a mass gathering of students in Heroes’ Square to review the day’s activities and to join in saying a gigantic “Thank You” to the First World War generation as confetti cannons filled the air with streams of red, white and blue paper strands.
The Thank You Youth Festival was funded by The Royal British Legion as part of the 2018 Thank You Movement.
Aysha Afridi, Head of Heritage and Learning, National Memorial Arboretum, said: “The young people who participated in the Thank You Youth Festival engaged in a number of exciting and thought-provoking activities providing them a greater understanding of Remembrance and of the tectonic changes that occurred during the First World War. It is essential that we continue to help younger generations learn about the tremendous sacrifices made by wartime generations ensuring that the invaluable lessons learnt are passed on.
“The Thank You Youth Festival was a tremendous success and all of the students were enthusiastic and eager to learn as they ventured around the Arboretum. A huge thank you to the staff and students from the 16 schools who joined us for this historic event.”
Catherine Davies, Head of Remembrance at The Royal British Legion, said: “So much of our lives today is shaped by the example and experience of the First World War generation. It was brilliant to see so many children coming together at the National Memorial Arboretum to learn about the war’s legacies and say their own ‘Thank You’ to all those who served, sacrificed and changed our world.”