Students, parents and staff from two schools were on hand to describe the twinning project between Dave Kandal Elementary on the district’s west side, and Dr.T.A.Swift Elementary on the east side.
The ‘School Twinning’ project began in 2010 when the school district partnered with the City of Abbotsford on the ABC Diversity Project. Goals were to build intercultural and interfaith connections through community-wide twinning activities and intercultural programming offered at neighborhood hubs.
This partnership received a three year social grant from the Federal government (Citizen and Immigration Canada). With the grant, the school district undertook a program to bring children together from different cultures in the community. The project involved pairing schools from different neighborhoods with different demographics, and connecting classrooms from each school.
The schools paired together were Sandy Hill and Clearbrook Elementary in the first year; and Dr. Thomas Swift and Dave Kandal Elementary this year.
Activities included pen pal writing, visiting cultural/heritage sites in the community, and the sharing of cultural celebrations with the twinned school. In all, the project has involved 1,500 elementary students, as well as teachers and school district administration. Through the initiative a greater awareness of cultural diversity has been created, as it allowed students to learn from their peers and helped eliminate misconceptions about cultural and religious differences.
This was the first time this type of program has been run in Canada.