A class apart, as hundreds sample Zimbabwe culture

Children have been given a taste of African culture.

Children have been given a taste of African culture.

Thanks to a project organised by Northumberland's Creative Partnerships scheme, hundreds of children have taken part in workshops with the Zimbabwean dance and acapella group, Black Umfolosi.

A total of 16 schools have been involved over the last four weeks.

The group's tour ends this week with visits to schools in Blyth, Berwick and Prudhoe, where children will be taught about Zimbabwean gumboot dancing and its roots in the African mining industry.

Carol Alevroyianni, creative director of Creative Partnerships Northumberland, said: "Meeting and working with creative people from their own and other cultures is very important for young people.

"It gives them an opportunity to see beyond the stereotypes.

"They are meeting real people and instead of just seeing artists perform, they are able to talk with them and get to know a little bit about life outside their own town or village."

Black Umfolosi visited Horton Grange First School in Blyth yesterday.

Headteacher Carol Oliver said: "If young people are to succeed in the world they will be living in as adults, we need to recognise the increased need to respect and understand other cultures - not only in order to seek the process of peace, but to ensure the young people's success in a rapidly changing world."

The project has so far taken in schools in Corbridge, Ashington, Cambo, Seaton Sluice, Wylam, Amble, Whalton, Longhorsley and Bedlington.

It will end with sessions at Tweedmouth West First School in Berwick and Prudhoe Community High School.

The Prudhoe event will be the culmination of the school's Multicultural Fortnight, which has seen it hold special assemblies celebrating links with schools in Tibet and Russia.

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