Leeds United midfielder Weston McKennie surprises Co-op Academy Oakwood pupils and joins in with Burley Banksy workshop
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Burley Banksy is the nickname of Andy McVeigh, who was leading a workshop involving collaborative discussions and activities around Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ+ community, racism and anti-discriminatory messages last week.
McKennie, a recent addition to the Leeds squad, made a surprise appearance and helped pupils create posters about the topic before choosing his favourite piece of art and joining the whole-school assembly to talk about allyship and give a speech referencing his own experiences.
Speaking to Premier League representatives during the visit, he said: “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 McVeigh 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 Aasim, headteacher 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.”