Lara Stothfang (she/her)

We oppose the prejudice, stigmatization and the image that the media and society paint of students in a hotspot school.
Who are you and what do you do?

Hello, I am Lara Stothfang. Together with David Yaw Debrah I founded the project “Who We Are!

What does diversity and equal opportunity mean to you?

Lara: Diversity for us means that a wide range of people with different backgrounds are represented, such as genders, origins, social status, religion. Especially in schools it is important that the diversity of our society is also visible among the pedagogical staff.

David: By equal opportunities, we mean that people are not denied opportunities because of the backgrounds mentioned. Every child should be given the chance to develop his or her potential. Educational success must no longer be a question of social background. It is our joint responsibility to enable a successful educational biography for all children.

If you could change one thing in Germany, what would it be?

I would like to see more educational equity. All children deserve a real chance at a successful future.

What is your project "WER WIR SIND!" about?

Lara: We offer workshops in so-called “hotspot schools. The children attend various art workshops (painting, graffiti, poetry, rap, film), which are conducted by external artists. Our goal is to constantly expand the workshops in order to be able to promote as many talents as possible. In the future we also want to offer various topics from science and different sports. Our basic idea is to show WER WIR SIND! In this way, we oppose the prejudices, the stigmatization and the image that the media and society paint of the students of a hotspot school. At the same time, we want to support the children, provide them with a safe space at school and strengthen their self-confidence. We create an empowerment space where they can open up and where they are accompanied and strengthened in dealing with racism and discrimination.

How did you come up with the idea for your project "WER WIR SIND!" (WWS)?

David: We worked together at the Wedding-Schule in 2021. I’m actually active in the art and film scene and was a substitute teacher at the school at the time. However, I had the following problem: I loved the kids, but teaching them math, German and English just wasn’t my thing. I finally confided in Lara and she thought that a project group would be the right thing for me. That way I could contribute my artistic resources.

Lara: So, we started developing the concept for WWS together. I have always been bothered by society’s very negative view of my school and my students. That’s why it was especially important to us that the strengths, talents and resources of the children are promoted and also mapped.

Why is something like this not offered directly by schools?

Lara: Long-term and sustainable project funding cannot be guaranteed by schools. For us as a project, it therefore makes sense to offer our empowerment AGs to schools free of charge or at a low cost. For us, long-term and sustainable funding is very important, as we would like to offer the Empowerment-AG on a regular and ongoing basis. The children need this reliability and a place where they can test and practice their effectiveness. Because that is what we want to give them for their entire journey: Confidence in themselves and the experience that what they feel, say and do is important and effective.

What are the main challenges of your students?

David: There are many challenges for the children. The school system and the associated (language) performance requirements, poverty, exclusion and trauma. Racism and discrimination are also particularly noticeable for the children and young people. Therefore, it is a great challenge for these children to realize that doors are also open to them. Schools and politics have a responsibility here for socially disadvantaged children to create (fund) supportive learning environments and also provide them with these equitable educational opportunities.

What is the best way to support your work?

Lara: The best support we could get right now is resources (networks, marketing, legal advice, etc.) and financial support.

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