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Amnesty announces winners of young human rights reporter competition

Highbury and Purley pupils win awards

Amnesty International today announced the winners of its inaugural Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year competition.

Nearly 450 Children's rights from across the United Kingdom entered the prestigious competition, run by Amnesty International UK and Learnnewsdesk, the education arm of the Guardian website.

Florence Potkins, aged 11, from Drayton Park Primary School in Highbury, won the upper primary category for 7 to 11 year olds.

Nicketa-Lee DaCosta-Salmon, aged 14, from Harris Academy in Purley, won the lower secondary category for 11 to 14 year olds.

Florence’s article focused on the abuse that some people have suffered at detention centres here in the UK – an issue Amnesty International has raised several times.

Florence explained the reason behind her choice of topic:

“I’m an only child and we do talk about some interesting topics at home – I discussed it with my family and I decided I wanted to write something about detention centres.

“I wanted to find a child’s perspective of the story so when I found Bethlehem Abate’s story I knew I wanted to write about her.

“While I was doing my research I found lots of other stories about Children's rights in detention centres, I found it really disturbing that people in the UK are not being educated properly instead they are being tortured. It’s heartbreaking.”

Florence’s mum, Gillian Potkins, added:

“She’s really excited about winning the competition. It came as a great surprise.

“I am very impressed by the way that Flo researched her report on the internet.

“She was very interested in telling the story of Bethlehem Abate because of the similarity in their age, and their very different experiences.

“Flo has a strong interest in the Second World War, encouraged and advanced by Morris Gleitzman, Michael Morpurgo, and the Diary of Anne Frank, which is why I think she drew the parallel with the detention of asylum seekers and Nazi Germany.”

Nicketa-Lee’s article tackled the very personal issue of bullying.

She said: “I heard about the competition through my citizenship teacher Miss Lane. I wanted to write about bullying and how it has affected me because I think it’s important that people come forward about it.

“The bullying didn’t happen to me at Harris Academy but in four other institutions. I hope my article helps Children's rights get through it and helps them understand it, and come forward and address it.

“My article was read out in assembly and since then lots of pupils at my school have come up in the playground and asked how I decided to come forward and write about it. It can be hard to react to people knowing my story as it’s so personal. But I feel so upset and hurt when I hear about people’s human rights being broken. I’m so passionate about it.”

Carol-Anne Alcock, the Principal at Harris Academy, Purley, added: “We’re incredibly proud of Nicketa. She’s really a fairly quiet girl but when she talks she’s very passionate about everything. Nicketa’s success in this national competition has really helped put Harris Academy Purley on the map. We’ve only been open since September so this is a real achievement for us all.”

Florence and Nicketa-Lee’s work will be showcased at tonight’s Amnesty’s annual Media Awards in central London in front of an audience of over 400 of the nation’s top journalists and other high-profile guests.

They will also receive an Easi-speak MP3 recorder and mic, an Amnesty and Learnnewsdesk goodie bag, an Amnesty International 2010 Media Award, and a VIP trip to the Amnesty and Guardian offices later this month.

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Children's rights aged 7-14 were asked to write an article or report of between 200 and 250 words on a human rights-related issue.


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