20 years on - Why SINCE 9/11?
The terror attacks of 11 September 2001, when 19 Islamist terrorists flew hijacked planes into the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, were a pivotal moment in history. It resulted in the deaths of 2977 innocent people making it the worst terror attack of all time.
This year, 11 September not only marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but also the 10th anniversary for the UK education charity SINCE 9/11. This gives us an opportunity to remember the lives lost, not only the 2600 American lives but those of citizens from over 90 nations, including 67 British people. It also presents the opportunity to redouble our efforts to teach students in schools throughout the UK the events, causes and consequences of 9/11 to ensure similar atrocities cannot happen in the future. By teaching tolerance and respect for all faiths and religions we can create a more peaceful, harmonious and cohesive society.
Whilst we all remember exactly where we were on 9/11, no child at school today was even born; indeed many of their young teachers were small children themselves. It is therefore vital we educate them about the tragedy that happened 20 years ago.
We are grateful to have achieved so much over the last decade. Starting in September 2011, we launched our acclaimed free secondary school education resources in partnership with the world ranked number 1 UCL Institute of Education, which today are being downloaded over 10,000 times a year by teachers across the UK.
For 3 years we hosted the 9/11 National Schools Competition which saw over 1000 secondary school students write an essay or produce a short film on the subject ‘How did 9/11 Change the World?’. We awarded winners a 5 day trip to New York where they met many 9/11 key people, from the city Mayor to NY Police and Fire commissioners, family members, first responders and students at Stuyvesant school next to Ground Zero.
We commissioned the monumental ‘Since 9/11’ World Trade Centersteel public artwork by NY artist Miya Ando and it was unveiled in 2015 by the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson and US Ambassador Matthew Barzun. It is situated in a permanent site at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London
Two years on, we launched the SINCE 9/11 ‘outreach workshops’ to schools that focused on enabling difficult discussions about radicalisation, extremism and terrorism and supporting fundamental British values. In the same year we held the ‘SINCE 9/11 National Education Conference’ in Birmingham attended by over 100 heads, teachers and leading educationalists from all over the UK. Later on that year, we launched the first ‘9/11 Survivor Stories‘ for schools. British survivor Janice Brooks, who amazingly escaped from the 84th floor of the World Trade Center, shared her incredible story.
In September 2018, we were proud to introduce our SINCE 9/11 primary school programme, which contained especially designed material for 7-11 year olds.
On Human Rights Day 10 December 2020, we teamed up with UCL Institute of Education again to host the 'SINCE 9/11 Virtual Student Summit' which 10,000 students from over 300 schools attended and at which the historian Prof Sir Simon Schama, Sara Khan, former Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism and 9/11 family member Nicky Napier.
This year, for the 20th anniversary, we launched the ‘SINCE 9/11 Assembly Kit’ for secondary schools developed in collaboration with the Department for Education.
In September this year we were pleased to release our commissioned UCL Institute of Education report 'Addressing Extremism Through the Classroom’, the result of two years research with teachers at secondary schools in England. The groundbreaking report suggested an urgent need for additional resources for teachers to help address extremism of all types including racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and misogyny in schools.
Some hoped that 9/11 was so horrific that it would wake up the world to the misery, pointlessness and pain of terrorism. But here we are, 20 years to the day after it, and international terrorism has increased, across every continent. The need is greater than ever thus for building understanding amongst the young that violence and terror will never solve the world’s problems, and that mutual respect, empathy and understanding are the only ways humanity can make progress.
This is why SINCE 9/11 is needed now more than ever.
Founder and Chairman