Author: Grainne Cuffe
A primary school was blasted for encouraging pupils to walk around a field five times on the hottest day of the year – to show solidarity with refugees.
The Met Office had issued a warning to stay out of the sun as temperatures in the south east reached a sweltering 33.3C on Monday, the day the kids took part in the sweaty trudge.
But acting headteacher at St Gregory’s Catholic school in Margate, Kent, Diane Rougvie-Fevrier, says the walk was optional and water and hats were provided.
One of the pupil’s grandparents raged on social media, labelling the decision “disgusting” in a Facebook post that garnered almost 300 comments before it was deleted.
The fuming gran said: “So my granddaughter came home from school today saying they had to walk around the field five times so they would know how a refugee would feel like.
“They had a guy from CAFOD (the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development) come to speak to them.
“The whole school had to do it the younger ones done the playground.
“I think this is disgusting on the hottest day of the year.”
Many supported the initiative, while others said it should have been abandoned because of the hot weather.
The headteacher said: “Children were invited to walk around the school field and we were overwhelmed with the number of children who chose to join in.
“Although the day was hot, the children enjoyed the early-morning stroll in the shade and had plenty of water and hats to wear.”
Others have since voiced their opinion online. Brian Varney said the decision was “not acceptable”
But Lucy Boyle said: “This was a walk was to show support to the refugees who have to make a longer and hotter walks to a safer place, as their home has been turned into a battle ground.
“I think it wonderful this walk still went ahead, it helps the kids truly understand what refugees have to go through.
“The walk was optional and lots of water provided.
“I think everyone is just trying to use the weather as an excuse to get off whatever they can at the moment.”
Rachel Louise Sheavills added: “Early morning stroll with hats and water provided- we are lucky to have tap water that we can drink for starters.”
The walk was part of the school’s spiritual day, with a representative from CAFOD giving talks to the children.
Pupils took on the walk as part of the organisation’s campaign Share the Journey, which was launched by Pope Francis to recognise people who are forced to flee war, poverty, persecution or natural disasters.
Mrs Rougvie-Fevrier added: “Pope Francis wanted to show solidarity with our global neighbours by encouraging people to walk and represent the journeys they have made.