On September 20, Homayoon Shirzad, SoS Coordinator, Tetiana Murphy, SoS Project and Communications Manager, and Hashem Badran, SoS Dublin Ambassador, attended the Award Ceremony for Schools of Sanctuary in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. The event was organized by the Education Authority of Northern Ireland and City of Sanctuary Belfast.
The Award Ceremony took place at Belfast City Hall, in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tina Black, who commended the 10 awarded schools as beacons in the community, places where cultural diversity is valued and celebrated. The schools awarded this year were:
- Model Primary School, Derry; St Eithne’s Primary School, Derry;
- Dundela Infants School, Belfast; Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School. Belfast;
- Dundonald Primary School, Belfast; Nettlefield Primary School, Belfast;
- Bunscoil Mhic Reachtain, Belfast; Holy Rosary Primary School, Belfast;
- St Clare’s Primary School, Belfast; Springfield Primary School, Belfast.
Speakers emphasized the importance of schools being welcoming places for pupils and their families, where every child feels safe, where they are fully accepted and included in life. Many students and teachers came to the celebration, which witnessed musical events, flamenco dancing, and recorded videos expressing the meanings and importance of welcoming and accepting diversity in students.
There are now a total of 60 recognized Schools of Sanctuary in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, and the leaders are currently seeking to expand the program throughout Northern Ireland.
This was an inspiring event and a wonderful opportunity for North/South cooperation and support. Our small delegation from the south left feeling inspired to new levels of commitment and action.
Hashem Badran (Schools of Sanctuary Ambassador, Dublin)