2nd July 2015 Reach for the stars and you’ll get to the top of the tree by Ruth Adams

These words were part of the speech Lemn Sissay gave last week as he was elected Chancellor of the University of Manchester (beating Lord Peter Mandelson and Sir Mark Elder, Halle Music Director in the contest).

“Reach for the top of the tree and you may get to the first branch but reach for the stars and you’ll get to the top of the tree. My primary aim is to inspire and be inspired.”
For those of us who live and work with young people who are or have been in the care system, or have experienced any kind of trauma, Lemn’s is a truly inspirational story.
Fostered when he was a baby, with a family who went on to have 3 birth children, he was sent to a children’s home when he was 11. He went on to spend time in four different homes where he had some traumatic and abusive experiences.
The journey he made from leaving care to becoming Chancellor of Manchester University, renowned playwright and poet, patron of The Letter Box Club and creator of Christmas Dinners for Care Leavers, makes him a brilliant role model for young people who believe that their early experiences will hold them back from reaching their dreams.
Two TED talks in which he tells his story are worth watching –
A Child of the State – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLiM2-izFl4 and
A Child of the State Too – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwj5XKzOadM
I’ve been inspired as I’ve read more about this amazing guy.
His poem ‘Let there be Peace’ is just one example of his creativity. Listen to Lemn reciting it at –

Can you use his story as a way of encouraging the young people you live and work with, to begin to unlock the possibilities and potential they have?

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