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Pizza and mental health: Free 'Generation Z' youth programme at Barnsbury Community Centre off to flying start

PUBLISHED: 16:28 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:30 29 July 2019

Generation Z, youth programme at Barnsbury Community Centre. Pizza making session: from left, participants Adonai Tewelde, eight, Shae Hall, 12, and Kurt Rolands-Jacobs, 10, and Generation Z founder Aneisa Bolton. Picture: Polly Hancock

Generation Z, youth programme at Barnsbury Community Centre. Pizza making session: from left, participants Adonai Tewelde, eight, Shae Hall, 12, and Kurt Rolands-Jacobs, 10, and Generation Z founder Aneisa Bolton. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Barnsbury Community Centre is hosting a free summer holiday youth programme to teach kids life skills - and its founder has seen attendance double in just a couple of weeks.

Generation Z volunteers Venetia Lamb and Jennifer Peart, with founders Aneisa Bolton and Calvin Hall. Picture: Polly HancockGeneration Z volunteers Venetia Lamb and Jennifer Peart, with founders Aneisa Bolton and Calvin Hall. Picture: Polly Hancock

Aneisa Bolton runs her self-funded classes every Thursday from 6pm to 8pm. Generation Z is running for 12 weeks, offering problem solving skills and lessons in healthy living. Last night young people learnt to cook vegetarian pizza; previously they've made smoothies and worked on short stories.

Aneisa told the Gazette: "We started this programme because we felt that there was a gap in provision within the Barnsbury ward area.

"The first week we had five children turn up and the following week that progressed to 11 children.

"Speaking to the parents and the young people in the community, people have felt like the community centre can provide more for young people, as they were concerned about knife crime, youth offending and generally feeling unsafe for their children playing outside.

Generation Z founder Aneisa Bolton. Picture: Polly HancockGeneration Z founder Aneisa Bolton. Picture: Polly Hancock

"For me it was about coming up with something which will benefit children's life and resilience - but still having a safe place to play."

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She admitted there had been teething problems getting kids to stick to the core programme.

"My initial focus was academic performance, emotional well-being and structured workshops for physical and mental health," she said. "[But that] plan has gone out the window because you have to be child-led, because if you don't, they won't turn up.

Generation Z, youth programme at Barnsbury Community Centre. Pizza making session: from left, participants Adonai Tewelde, eight, Shae Hall, 12, and Kurt Rolands-Jacobs, 10, and Generation Z founder Aneisa Bolton. Picture: Polly HancockGeneration Z, youth programme at Barnsbury Community Centre. Pizza making session: from left, participants Adonai Tewelde, eight, Shae Hall, 12, and Kurt Rolands-Jacobs, 10, and Generation Z founder Aneisa Bolton. Picture: Polly Hancock

"Kids love active and practical stuff, rather than [people] sitting down and talking to them."

Aneisa added funding was an issue: she pays for all the equipment used on the programme including games, food, materials and hall hire. She's set up a crowdfunding page to help with the costs, which has so far raised £200.

Looking to the future, she added: "I would like to expand and grow my project, as summer holidays are here.

"I would love more kids to come and join in, providing more activities and educational trips, having the project for more than one day [a week], and more funding and support."

Generation Z volunteers Venetia Lamb and Jennifer Peart, with founders Aneisa Bolton and Calvin Hall. Picture: Polly HancockGeneration Z volunteers Venetia Lamb and Jennifer Peart, with founders Aneisa Bolton and Calvin Hall. Picture: Polly Hancock

"By doing this it brings a sense of community."

You can contribute to the crowdfunder by visiting the GoFundMe page.

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