Serlina Boyd, Journalism, Children

Founder Of UK’s First Black Children’s Magazine Opens Journalism School For Children

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The founder of the first Black children’s magazine in the United Kingdom is changing the game by opening a journalism school to improve diversity standards in creative spaces.

Serlina Boyd, founder of Cocoa Girl magazine, is scheduled to open the doors to the Cocoa School of Journalism and Creative Arts on April 8 in Beckenham, South London. The curriculum will teach kids all about the elements of journalism, including news reporting, video editing, and illustration. 

The school will operate daily during after-school hours and throughout the day during half-term.

Described as “a hub that champions creativity,” Boyd says courses will also cover creative writing and music as she wants the teachings to inspire those next in line to choose the less than stereotypical career paths.

“Doing this journalism school, it’s going to inspire the next generation to see that there is a whole new avenue that they can go down instead of the normal stereotypical routes that they may pick, and we do it in a fun way.”

According to The Voice, the entrepreneur said, “It’s time to shake up the industry and change the narrative.”

A report from the Sutton Trust revealed that 80% of editors received their education from private schools, while only 11% of journalists come from working-class backgrounds—and 0.2% of journalists are Black. Those statistics not only shocked Boyd but encouraged her to do something about it. “It’s the statistics that got me,” she said. “They are quite shocking, and I feel that there need to be more journalists telling our stories.”

She already works with a team of budding journalists—ages 10 and above—for her magazine. Boyd and her daughter, Faith, launched the publication in 2020, and it has been distributed to 500 schools across the U.K. Shortly afterward, the duo created a similar publication called Cocoa Boy

The journey of teaching journalism skills to young kids has already provided Boyd’s team with great opportunities, such as interviewing Halle Bailey, the star of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Boyd said that meeting Bailey, the first Black portrayal of Ariel, let the kids determine the narrative. “It allowed children that are not normally seen in a positive light to be seen as such and to tell their story, and basically fit their own narrative and not wait for the world to paint a picture which is not necessarily true,” she said. 

Cocoa Journalism is designed to be a standout hub that will also engage with adults by offering a storytelling center and a fashion styling course. Courses will take place in the evening for adults interested in learning a new skill set.

An old-school education with a “no phone” policy will be enforced. “With the school, we are going back to basic. Children are so used to just scrolling, and they are not picking up the pen and interacting, so we are changing that,” Boyd said. 

The school’s opening has been met with an overwhelming response. More than 300 parents want to enroll their children, something Boyd is grateful for but not surprised about. 

“Parents have been crying out for this,” she said. “This school is a chance for children from underrepresented backgrounds to improve their social skills, and we are all just really excited.” 

The journalist hopes to work with Black media professionals to teach and run some workshops.

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