In the wake of the unrest in London and around the UK in the summer of 2011, Zoe Jackson, founder and director of Living the Dream, said:
“Our young people are in trouble for all sorts of reasons that we don’t always understand. Young people of today are tomorrow’s leaders. They bring energy, new perspectives and a new voice to our society but sadly, the media presents a negative image of young people”.
She unveiled plans for a youth-led campaign, “I Have a Dream” to promote the positive contribution that young people can make through the performing and visual arts.”
Zoe established The Dream Foundation as a charity to provide subsidised access for young people to the performing arts who would otherwise not have access through lack of funding or positive role models. She intends, through the foundation’s activities, to raise awareness and support for the challenges facing young people in the 21st century and provide a platform for young people’s voices to be heard.
Background to I Have a Dream
On August 28, 1963, under a nearly cloudless sky, more than 250,000 people, a fifth of them white, gathered near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to rally for “jobs and freedom.” The roster of speakers included speakers from nearly every segment of society and each of the speakers was allotted fifteen minutes, but the day belonged to a young and charismatic leader.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had originally prepared a short and somewhat formal recitation of the sufferings of African Americans attempting to realize their freedom in a society chained by discrimination. He was about to sit down when gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about your dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!” Encouraged by shouts from the audience, King drew upon some of his past talks, and the result became the landmark statement of civil rights – a dream of all people, of all races and colours and backgrounds, sharing in a world marked by freedom and democracy.
Fast forward to August, 2011. We were putting on our summer showcase in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. In the background, the UK was in turmoil, our cities were burning and young people were branded as ‘the most unpleasant and potentially violent young people in the world’. As the press jumped on the anti-hoodies bandwagon, it was ironic that not one newspaper, radio or television station paid any attention to the press release about our show, where we were doing something positive and worthwhile.
Our choreographers spent a day creating a piece, “I have a Dream”, using Dr King’s speech and it became the inspiration for us to produce a showcase to mark the 50th anniversary of the speech working with young people to express our dreams and, as Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
About Zoe Jackson and Living the Dream
Zoe Jackson set up the Living the Dream Performing Arts Company, in 2006 at the age of 16 and has created something unique in that it is run entirely by young people. She is passionate about supporting and developing young people from all walks of life. Over the last six years, throughout her A levels and degree course, Zoe has managed and grown her company into a performing arts school with over 750 young people, a media company, a dance company and a dancewear brand.
Through the arts, she tirelessly campaigns to raise awareness and support for the challenges facing young people, to provide a platform for their voices to be heard and promote the positive contribution they can make.
In November 2011, she was awarded Shell’s Woman of the Future in Arts, Media and Culture and Future 100 Young Social Entrepreneurs. In 2012, she was a finalist in the Lloyds TSB Entrepreneur Awards and was chosen for the Youth Achievement Award “Celebrating Future Leaders” by the Universal Peace Federation and the Women’s Federation for World Peace. She was also awarded “Young Person of the Year” award by the Chamber of Commerce.
Zoe was recently selected by Virgin Media Pioneers to represent Sir Richard Branson’s Control Shift Campaign as a spokesperson for young entrepreneurs, appearing on a platform with Vince Cable and meeting David Cameron. She played a key role in persuading Government to launch the multi million pound Start Up Loans scheme announced in the Government’s Budget in March 2012 and is now one of ten Young Ambassadors working with James Caan to promote the scheme.
This year, Living the Dream’s highest accolade: a performance for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey on Royal Commonwealth Day.
Zoe has proven that not only is she an exceptional young business woman but an inspiration and role model to thousands of young people.
Click here to find out more and to support this fantastic charity.