KELOWNA – Schools throughout the central Okanagan took part in Harmony Day today, an annual event aimed at teaching students about cultural diversity and acceptance.
Thirteen schools closed classroom doors for a couple hours to hold festivities revolving around tolerance.
Brenda Kirsch, who is the principal of Kelowna’s Bankhead Elementary, says she hopes her students leave school today remembering that their classmates are all deserving of acceptance.
“We are all a little different in our own ways and that needs to be celebrated,” she says. “Whether we look different in our appearance or religious beliefs, we are all part of the same family.”
Assemblies, student-made artwork, colourful clothing, cultural presentations and guest speeches were all part of the day’s celebrations.
The mayor of Kelowna, Colin Basran, was one of the speakers on hand to talk about the importance of an accepting and inclusive city. He stressed the importance of friendship, regardless of outside appearance.
It’s the ninth annual Harmony Day for the school district, which also includes students in Lake Country and West Kelowna.
“We’re really trying to take on that philosophy of harmony; everyone getting along and making a difference,” says Brady Ibbetson, Ann McClymont Elementary’s Principal. “We hope that out in the community when (students) are playing on their sports teams or volunteering that they encompass that belief that they can make that difference.”
Harmony Day originates in Australia and was brought to the Central Okanagan after a teacher went on vacation down under.