School pupils enlisted into the war against hate crime

An initiative designed to tackle bigotry, prejudice and hate crime is being launched in Enfield primary schools on 1 May.

The Heartstone Odyssey is aimed at Year 5, 6 and 7 pupils and is built around the book of the same name which follows a fictional character, Chandra, and documents her attempts to overcome intolerance, prejudice and racism with her friends – the mice.

The story deals with every aspect of hate crime and provides a number of fictional scenarios which allow children to define what constitutes intolerant behaviour. Children are encouraged to think about how they would deal with incidents of intolerance, or hate crime, and how to confront them in a safe and sensitive way.

After reading and discussing the book the pupils are encouraged to draw up a charter defining the values they have agreed which respect different religions, races and ways of life.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Achilleas Georgiou, said: "Intolerance and prejudice are never acceptable and Enfield Council will work with schools and young people to help encourage pupils to understand the importance of openness, tolerance and respect, and to confront unacceptable behaviour when they witness it, in a safe manner.

“Enfield is a hugely diverse borough and residents get on well. We want to build on the good community relations we already have so that everyone in this borough, regardless of their background or circumstances, feels valued and welcome. The best way to embed that spirit of openness and acceptance is to engender it at a young age.”

The organisation leading this project, Heartstone, is a non-profit national organisation which uses story - fiction, photo-documentary and historically based story themes - to raise social and environmental issues with children and young people. The project itself is funded by the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime.

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