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 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. Importantly, it also presents the opportunity for us, the UK education charity SINCE 9/11, 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 over 20 years ago.
SINCE 9/11 has 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 Center steel 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 in London
Two years later 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 ‘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, in response to reports that children are being radicalised at ever younger ages, we introduced our SINCE 9/11 primary school programme, which contained specially 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 spoke directly to students.
In September 2021 we released 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. This ground-breaking report suggested an urgent need for additional resources for teachers to help address conspiracy theories and extremism of all types including racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and misogyny in schools. We also launched the ‘SINCE 9/11 Assembly Kit’ for secondary schools developed in collaboration with the Department for Education.
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, 22 years to the day after it, and international terrorism has increased, across every continent. Accordingly, there is a greater need than ever to build understanding amongst the young that violence and terror will never solve the world’s problems, and that mutual respect, empathy and tolerance are the only ways in which humanity can make progress.
This is why SINCE 9/11 is needed now more than ever.
SINCE 9/11 is a non-political and non-denominational charity. Registered in England and Wales. Company number 7230819 & charity registration number 1136568. Registered office; Botanic House, 100 Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB2 1PH