Diversity and the acceptance of differences were celebrated at a West Kelowna school Wednesday.
About 200 students at Rose Valley Elementary came together in song, dance and speeches for Harmony Day, which is meant to teach young people about the importance of respect in diverse communities. This is the sixth year Harmony Day has been celebrated in School District 23.
The concept of diversity was shared through a song the students sang, which took a twist on the children’s nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: “Twinkle twinkle universe, different cultures so diverse, we are all alike some way, being different is ok.”
There was also a flash mob to the song We Are Family, which got students up and dancing. And one teacher led the students in the song I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing, which has the following lyrics: “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” and “I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand”.
A video filled with images of friendship and diversity was also played during the assembly. It contained students’ voices describing what respect and friendship mean to them. A video made by the school district was also played that showed students at different schools dancing to celebrate diversity and harmony.
Students say they learned a lot from Wednesday’s assembly.
“Everyone is different and we all belong in our school, we all belong in our community,” said Jordyn Tattersall.
The young student adds that harmony, to her, looks like two people having fun, being cheerful and accepting one another.
Fellow student Malachi Freh says it’s what’s inside that counts.
“We could all be different on the outside but the same on the inside,” Freh said. “People could just make fun of each other because they look different on the outside where they’re really the same on the inside.”
Student Kyra Rice believes she can sum it up quite nicely.
“People can start to be nice to each other and not to bully and accept other people,” she said.
Teacher Kumi Nittel, who is on the school district Harmony Day committee, says it’s more important than ever for young people to be taught the importance of diversity and harmony.
“The world isn’t the same for our kids anymore,” she said. “They’re going to travel. They’re going to so many more places. They’re going to meet so many cultures than in the past.”
“They need to have the skills to get along with each other.”
Nittel says students can show they understand the concepts of harmony through simple actions.
“It’s really respecting each other on the playground and simple things like what we eat for lunch…starting at such a basic level, the kids are going to have that engrained in them,” she said.
But she notes that Harmony Day shouldn’t stop after Wednesday is over.
“It’s one day that we recognize we have diversity in our community but harmony is something that carries on every day,” she said.