St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
Share the Journey-Walk for Refugees 7-8th June 2018
St Joseph’s school took up Pope Francis’ challenge to walk in solidarity with refugees to raise awareness of their plight and help lobby world governments for action.
All of our children were struck by the fact that children as young as them may become refugees through no fault of their own. Circle time during the week was spent learning about the factors that lead to families being forced to flee their homes, the children used the CAFOD website to learn about the lives of refugees from all over the world and how CAFOD and other agencies are helping.
A starting point for some classes was a discussion about Mary and Joseph’s decision to flee to Egypt for safety with the baby Jesus. KS2 children took part in the ‘On the Move’ game and gained an insight into the injustices faced by many refugees. The children were asked to think about questions they would like to ask a refugee.
Our Minnie Vinnies planned a 1 mile route around our playground and field and researched the situations of the refugee children on the CAFOD prayer cards. They gathered together resources such as groundsheets to make shelters, a tent, a water carrier, a plate of rice, blanket and a rucksack of clothes; to man 4 stations each based on the children they had learned about. They made signposts with statements such as ‘This way to safety and shelter’ and prepared themselves to be hot seated with questions from each class.
Classes moved around the route in small ‘family groups’, the children in KS2 who had played the On the Move game recognized that refugee families are made up of people of all ages, and were keen to help each other, discussing how they would cope if they had an elderly or very young family member. Staff walking with the children found that they chatted about what they were learning and compared their experiences, even some of the older children who perhaps weren’t as keen to walk recognised how comfortable and safe their lives are and expressed that they often take their opportunities for granted. At each station the groups paused and heard the stories of the refugee children from the Minnie Vinnies who explained their situation with empathy and sensitivity.
Children really engaged with this and responded with questions ranging from ‘Do your feet hurt?’, ‘Are you scared at night-time?’ to ‘What do you hope will happen?’ and ‘Do you think you’ll ever return to your home?’ We found that the children needed little prompting to imagine and empathize, asking thoughtful questions. Before moving on from each station, the children said the short prayer together.
The children were delighted to contribute over 200 miles to the Share the Journey total and each received a certificate. It was a worthwhile and memorable experience for all involved, and an effective way to teach themes around the refugee crisis such as humanity, justice and hope. We are very proud of our Minnie Vinnies in the way they organised and led the event.
R Donoghue St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, A Voluntary Academy
Centenary year of the Armistice of the First World War
The Retford War Memorial lists more than 300 names of soldiers who died in the First World War. 2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of the Armistice and the end of the Great War. The last year of the Great War was 1918.
Over the months of March and August this year, two journeys are being made to the battlefields of the First World War and a past student Elizabeth Szarelis, and member of St Joseph’s Parish, is taking small wooden crosses to the battlefield locations and laying them as an Act of Remembrance.
Three of St Joseph’s Y6 students have written a personal message on the small wooden crosses as a mark of respect for the fallen of the Great War. The messages written included “You shall be not be forgotten … Our generation is saying thank you to your generation … We will always remember you throughout time.”
Some of the crosses will be laid on Remembrance Sunday at the Retford War Memorial. This will link Retford and the surrounding community with the memorial or battlefields in France or Belgium where the soldiers fought and died.
The aim is to ensure those who died are remembered in our thoughts and prayers as each wooden cross is layed at the battlefields and in Retford.