North Belfast primary school celebrating diversity as School of Sanctuary

A north Belfast primary school has become the 50th in Northern Ireland to receive a School of Sanctuary award for its role in celebrating diversity and enriching its community.

Wheatfield Primary School is one of an increasing number to achieve the award in recognition of how it embraces differences and provides a safe and welcoming environment for all.

Almost a fifth of pupils at the school have settled in Belfast from countries including Turkey, Syria and Russia.

"My kids really love here," said Joyce Acquah, whose family originally hail from Ghana.

"There was something I was thinking about when I was moving here - how are my kids going to integrate into the system because it's new to them?

"But they really feel welcome and we feel welcome - the teachers are really good to us," Joyce said.

"Here is actually a beautiful. The only problem here is actually the weather!" joked Bekir Karanal who moved here from Turkey.

"I feel like I am at my own home because I feel welcome here."

Around a fifth of pupils have settled in Northern Ireland from different countries throughout the world. Credit: UTV

Israel Eguaogie is the chair of the School of Sanctuary programme.

"It will promote inclusion and it will also bring out the diversity in Northern Ireland if we help the host community to understand the different culture and the different heritages that newcomers are bringing to Northern Ireland," Israel told UTV.

"It's going to be a two way thing," he added. "The newcomers learn about Northern Irish culture and then Northern Ireland learns about the culture of people coming in here."

The school's principals believes celebrating diversity is vital.

"I think it makes such a difference for the school and the area as well to open up to everyone and really celebrate that and celebrate it for our pupils and let our pupils see what is happening in the wider world and we can bring that into our school as well," explained David Lister.

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