Northern Ireland news

North Belfast school pupils to celebrate diversity and raise funds for children with cancer

Tomas Tavares, Jamie McClenaghan, Mya Vokes and Cara O’Neil, P6 pupils from Lowwood Primary School, are involved in the programme

PUPILS at 21 primary schools in north Belfast are to take part in an initiative to celebrate diversity and raise funds to support young people impacted by cancer.

The TREK - Truth, Respect, Empathy and Kindness - programme aims to help children develop an increased understanding and appreciation of physical, social, and cultural differences.

It will be launched on Monday with a Rainbow Day to raise funds for the Cancer Fund for Children when pupils will come to class in different coloured t-shirts to represent and celebrate their schools' inclusive ethos.

David Patterson, principal of Lowwood Primary School, said: "Our hope with TREK is to increase interaction, encourage debate and facilitate student’s exposure to other cultures, identities and disabilities in a positive way, building mutual understanding and empathy.

"It’s a public display of unity aimed at stretching all our boundaries.

"We are delighted to be partnering with a local charity for the first time as we raise money for Cancer Fund for Children, a charity which embodies the TREK values."

Bernadette Hagans (24), who was diagnosed with a sarcoma in September 2018 and had to have her lower right leg amputated, is also supporting the initiative.

"It’s so important we teach kids about truth, respect, empathy and kindness because this is what’s going to create a more accepting future generation," she said.

Rebecca Oates from the Cancer Fund for Children added: "Cancer doesn’t discriminate.

"It is a disease that can affect us all and we are delighted to benefit from this incredible initiative that will help young people celebrate our differences and help them understand what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

"During the coronavirus pandemic children with cancer have been incredibly vulnerable and have needed our support more than ever.

"We are so appreciative of primary schools coming together to help Cancer Fund for Children ensure that children throughout Northern Ireland don’t have to face cancer alone."

All funds raised by the participating schools will help the charity provide emotional support and therapeutic short breaks to children impacted by cancer and their families.

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