Joy Trail

JOY Trail

16 March 2024

In this guest blog post, Tanisha and Emma share their inspiring work on establishing the JOY trail.

Who we are:

We are Tanisha and Emma, two local mothers and educators in Bristol. Tanisha is an experienced secondary school teacher, EDI consultant and mentor for minoritised students at the University of the West of England. Emma is an experienced primary school teacher, education consultant and works as a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England.


Our why:

We are here to disrupt the dominant, single-story narratives of trauma and social justice of Black stories in the school curriculum. Our project works towards addressing this educational injustice by providing a culturally competent intervention for schools which centres, celebrates and cultivates Black joy.


Our how:

We created an experiential, local learning project where primary and secondary age children learn about people, places and stories of Black joy in their local area. Children participate in workshops run in-situ by community experts and explore Black Joy through ‘joyous’ food, music, art, literature, horticulture and technology. Children record their learning in individual scrapbooks which support the children to create an emotional map of their Black joy trail; a powerful, personal representation of their local area through the lens of Black joy.


Why this is important for Bristol:

Our JOY trail project is unique in its exploration of Bristol’s children’s experiences of Black joy. We work alongside Bristol’s school children to develop a wider understanding of ‘taking up space’. Our project expands learning experiences beyond stereotypes and empowers children to see themselves as agents of positive change. JOY trail collaborates with experts across our city, valuing community knowledge so Bristol’s children can learn about local people, places and stories of Black joy. Maps are representations of how we see the world, mapping their local area through the lens of Black joy offers our city’s children a powerful sense of belonging through narratives of joy.


Our impact:

‘Inspirational and builds the feeling of hope for change for the better for our younger generation, who aren’t represented and celebrate enough.’

‘Thank you for seeing and sharing the potential and light in these young people.’

‘Creating connection and joy through community is the stuff of the soul. JOY trail, let us feed our children’s souls!’

These are just snippets from the feedback we’ve received from children, families, senior school leaders and community experts. We were proud to hold a sold-out, celebratory exhibition at the M-shed to showcase the experiences of our city’s young people on the JOY trail.


Our next steps:

The second iteration of the JOY trail project is in the works. This will incorporate feedback from the schools involved with the first run, and requests from additional schools who would like to work with us.

To amplify children’s experiences and ideas we are creating an interactive, digital resource for schools. This resource will map Bristol through the lens of Black joy which schools can use and add to as a ‘living, breathing’ educational resource.


Learn more:

If you would like to work with us and learn more about our project and all the exciting things we have coming up, please do either get in touch via email or visit our Instagram page. @_joytrail