School pupils to go on an odyssey

Pupils in ten schools across Redcar and Cleveland will be taught more about tolerance, diversity and challenging hate crime thanks to ‘The Heartstone Odyssey’ project.

The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the hate crime pupils may encounter in their lives, as well as building community cohesion and integration.

The project is based on the book ‘The Heartstone Odyssey’ written by Arvan Kumar in 1985 about Chandra and her quest to overcome intolerance, prejudice and racism alongside her allies – the mice – as they look to find the pieces of the Heartstone.

Within the plot, the fantasy-based book deals with how historical events affect society’s tolerance of difference and gives opportunities to allow children the opportunity to explore how they would deal with racism or instances of intolerance.

Funded by Beyond Housing through the Travis Perkins Social Fund, the project launched on 10 May and will be visiting the ten schools in the coming months.

Diane McConnell, Interim Chief Education Officer at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “We’re delighted that so many schools from across Redcar and Cleveland will benefit from this unique project.

“It’s important that children learn to celebrate diversity and the Heartstone Odyssey project is a fun and educational way to achieve this.”

As part of the project, the children will read the story together and come to their own conclusions about the behaviour of the characters, in discussion with their classmates.

The children will also produce art and written work centred around the values and conclusions of their discussion.

Peter Eyre, Executive Headteacher at Saltburn Learning Campus, said: “I can really see the benefits of incorporating the use of Heartstone Odyssey within literacy in school, and covering topics such as racism and hate crime.

“I think that this work will build greater communication and understanding across different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds, to recognise the common human experience and see past stereotypes and prejudice.”

Beyond Housing has received funding through the Travis Perkins Social Fund to allow ten schools to participate in the project this year at no cost to the schools involved.

Sharon Dalton, Compliance and Diversity Manager at Beyond Housing, said: “We’re committed to contributing positively to all our neighbourhoods, so are absolutely delighted our bid to fund this project through the Travis Perkins community legacy fund was successful.

“The Heartstone Odyssey project will complement the school curriculum in building cohesive and tolerant communities, which is very much aligned to our own aims at Beyond Housing.”

To find out more about the Heartstone Odyssey project, visit: www.heartstone.org.uk/project.html