As Helen Lovejoy in The Simpsons once said: “Won’t somebody please think of the children?”
While the pandemic doesn’t pose as much of a health risk to 15 to 18-year-olds, it has struck at quite a pivotal point of their life. Around that age you’re leaving school, possibly starting university, and definitely thinking about who it is you want to be and what your future holds. Out of the embers of a global pandemic, it’s even more important to listen to the bold imaginations of the next generation who have had an off-kilter start to their adulthood.
In a film project between young poet laureate Caleb Femi and the National Citizen Service, young people put together a spoken word-narrated short which Caleb tells gal-dem is a “manifesto” as he says “gone are the days where ‘children’ should be seen and not heard”. As such the film, Life After Lockdown, shows how young people remain resilient in their ambitions to fight for a better world that tackles issues they were fighting for pre-pandemic: climate crisis, equality, mental health, education.
The dreamy short shows young people wandering through the outdoors together, masked up (safety first) and energised, admiring nature and discussing who they’re going to become when the world opens up. It used answers gathered by the NCS in response to a prompt: what should change when we emerge from the pandemic? “They hold a mirror to society and demanded to be included in the conversation about rebuilding the UK after lockdown,” he says.
One of the young voices included in the project, 19-year-old Lira Lewis, has big dreams for what we could become in the wake of such a shocking crisis. “I hope and pray that a post-lockdown world is one where, we can have even more action rather than just discussion, making our society more equal and safer to live in,” she says. “Not only just for the general public but the extraordinary people that risked their lives to save our loved ones’ lives and kept our world running during lockdown. Like the amazing doctors, nurses, teachers and care workers.”
Speaking to gal-dem she also explains the pandemic had impacted people her age by robbing them of “normal rites of passage” like the GCSEs, graduations, proms and even the typical fresher’s experience. Despite this, she says the film was a chance to think about a new world led by compassion where people are more invested in their communities, in showing love to those around them and where “we truly live our life to the fullest before we die, as in a brief instant we could be gone”.
She adds: “It has ignited a fire in me, as it has in many young people.”
Watch the premiere of the inspiring film showing what the next generation has in store below.