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Young Syrian refugees receive warm welcome from White Rock elementary students

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WATCH: A number of school kids get together at a Surrey park to support refugee children who are new to Canada – May 23, 2017

When a group of White Rock students learned what life was like for youngsters escaping war-torn countries, they decided to do something about it.

Samantha Cyr said it all started with the girls’ book club at Ray Shepherd Elementary School in White Rock. After reading Inside Out & Back Again, a New York Times Bestseller, the students knew they wanted to do something to make young refugees feel welcome.

“It’s about a girl who had to move to a different country because her country was in war,” Cyr says, describing the book. “So, this is why we put this whole thing together… to see how we could help all those other people and welcome them to Canada.”

With the help of their Parents Advisory Council, principals and “Me To We” participants like Grade 7 student Ashley Clayton, they made it happen.

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READ MORE: Syrian refugees in B.C. actively looking for work, but a third live in emotional turmoil: report

“There’s kids playing, there’s kids socializing with other kids that don’t go to their school,” Clayton says. “Yeah, it’s definitely what we wanted.”

About 40 young newcomers from James Ardiel Elementary School in Surrey took part in the purposeful play date. Teacher Claire Mansfield said events like this help newly arrived children feel at home.

“They haven’t experienced the woods… they basically just landed in Canada and [have] been placed in a home,” she said.

Waed Shoun, a widowed mother of four who recently arrived from Jordan, said a life in Canada is what she has always wanted for her children.

“They’re learning a lot from school and from other kids,” she says. “I think they will be what I want them to be one day.”

As for the young organizers, the event was a hands-on lesson with a lifelong impact.

“I think it’s special that we care about people the same way that we care about anybody else even if they look different,” Cyr said.