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Oakwood Students’ get surprise visit from Leeds United player during ‘Burley Banksy’ Workshop

Andy Mcveigh visited Co-op Academy Oakwood on Thursday 23rd February to discuss the importance of Allyship. 

Andy Mcveigh, otherwise known as the ‘Burley Banksy’, and American International footballer and Leeds United Midfielder, Weston Mckennie, visited Co-op Academy Oakwood on Thursday 23rd February to discuss the importance of Allyship. 

The visit kicked off with a workshop held by Andy McVeigh. Pupils enjoyed working collaboratively to create eye-catching posters, focusing on Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, Racism and important anti-discriminatory messages.

Whilst the pupils were in the midst of creating their posters, they were greeted by a surprise guest visit when Weston Mckennie entered the hall, met with huge excitement. Weston celebrated the warm welcome and quickly got stuck in helping pupils finish their designs before announcing his favourite piece of art.

The surprises didn’t end there. Mckennie was then hidden away whilst the school prepared for an assembly. Mckennie was introduced for a second time, much to the delight of other pupils unaware of his visit. The afternoon finished with a short speech from Weston touching on his own experiences of Allyship and emphasising the importance of it.

McKennie had this to say:

“We’ve been painting some pretty cool designs today in support of the LGBTQ+ community and Black History Month, it was really nice to see the kids expressing themselves. If we as players can help to bring awareness to important campaigns through the game they love and act as a positive influence, I think that’s really important.”

Andy said:

“The children were brilliant, full of enthusiasm and ideas. Their energy energises you. They came up with some super ideas, slogans and colours and were great fun to be around.”

“Being an ally is more important than ever in my opinion. Discrimination seems to be more prevalent in the last decade or so than it was before. In most school classes, there is a mixture of race, colour, ability and heritage.”

“In my experience, children don’t even ‘see’ these differences between people, they don’t care where you are from, what you look like, or who you love. Giving them the chance to express this through art is so important and means they can set good examples and values for others too as they get older.”

Rimah, Head Teacher at Co-op Academy Oakwood, said:

“Young people need to know that it is important to stand up to prejudice and support people no matter who they are. Inclusion for all is really important. The pupils were enthused about creating their street art. It was a useful reminder of the meaning of allyship and the groups for which allyship is important.”

A Co-op Academy Oakwood student said:

“You can support someone so that they don’t feel different. My favourite part was when Weston McKennie came in and the assembly when we got the chance to ask questions.”

The workshops hosted by Andy are in collaboration with the Leeds United Foundation. The workshops, which form part of the Premier League Primary Stars initiative (PLPS), offer engaging sessions to primary schools that help children to learn, be active and develop important life skills. 

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