The adventure story taking on intolerance
United Kingdom / Freedom Stories / 31 oct 2017
In the breath-taking setting of Manchester Cathedral, children from schools across the city shared a story of cooperation, understanding and empathy through their performance of The Heartstone Odyssey. The fantasy story, told through a trilogy of novels, written by Arvan Kumar, is for children of all ages and is full of magic, mystery, suspense and adventure. However the messages that the story conveys are far from fantastical, and can help those taking part in the performance - and spectators alike - to see things from other people’s perspectives and gain a better understanding of what it is like to experience prejudice and intolerance.
A small part of the story was told in Manchester through a dance-drama performance which was both beautiful and inspiring. A teacher from one of the participating schools saw the broader meaning of the event as ‘a wonderful opportunity for bringing all the people of Manchester together to share joy and peace.’ The Lord Mayor of Manchester commented on the wider impact of the book and performance as ‘an excellent way of involving and educating children to understand the value of co-operation, tolerance, understanding and mutual respect.’
Heartstone is a national organisation which aims to bring people together across different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures. All Heartstone stories aim to change perceptions, help people to recognise similarities instead of differences and to see people instead of prejudices. By reading The Heartstone Odyssey in schools and using it as a vehicle to raise discussion and debate, children are introduced to difficult topics such as prejudice and injustice and are given a platform to discuss their own experiences by relating them to the story. Each school group then constructs an exhibition to reach out to their respective communities and bring people together who would not otherwise necessarily meet, to discover they have more in common than they might think.
This term and next, 400 new groups across the UK will be starting their projects. They too will experience the magic of the Heartstone story and engage in a deeper discussion about the issues of prejudice and intolerance.