Let us be your family, say Manchester kids to city’s Chinese community

*Message comes ahead of key date in Chinese calendar to mark family and reunions *Lantern Festival is end of New Year and is sometimes called ‘true’ Valentine’s Day *Youngsters create their own 'love' letters filled with words of hope and support

They may only be 9 or 10 years old, but youngsters at a Moss Side school are well aware of the value of family and a sense of belonging.

And, that’s why pupils at St Mary's CofE primary have sent a special message to the city’s Chinese community – reminding them that they are part of the Manchester family.

The message comes ahead of the Lantern Festival tomorrow (February 8) – the tradition that marks the end of Chinese New Year. Started over 2000 years ago, the festival celebrates family, reunions and society. Some also call it the ‘true’ Chinese Valentine’s Day.

But, as some people may not be able to travel to see loved ones in China, and at a time when Coronavirus is dominating the headlines, the Year 5 class wanted to offer their support – and their own version of a Valentine’s message showing love and appreciation.

‘You help to make our city special’ and ‘we are all one family’ are just some of those endorsements, written in tribute to the Chinese community as a rich strand of the Manchester make-up.

Ten-year-old Grace wrote: "We are really sorry you cannot travel to visit your family. But you need to remember that you have family in Manchester and it is us. We want to help you as much as we can and welcome you here....All the rights we have here you can have too because you're in Manchester."

There are plans for the work will be translated as an act of solidarity, and to be sent to a linked primary school in Wuhan.

Headteacher Jenny McGarry, said: “A large part of our teaching is about being a global citizen. And as part of that it means we think about all nationalities and making sure people feel included in daily life.

“We also know that China couldn’t celebrate New Year in its normal style while there are concerns over Coronavirus – so, our children decided to help with that.”

The move also reflects one of the key themes in Skills for Life – a programme designed for the city’s children to develop strengths for inside and outside of school. In this case the youngsters’ work illustrates the theme of communication.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member with responsibility for the Skills for Life, said: “So often children will see the heart of an issue more clearly than anyone else. That clarity makes this message of support even more poignant – I hope all our Chinese community and especially students who are a long way from their families sense that empathy.”

Yuan Xiao – or the Lantern Festival – marks the end of Chinese New Year and activities include lighting lanterns and lion dances. 2020 is the Chinese year of the rat. People born in the year of the rat are said to be optimistic and energetic.


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