Religious Exchange Programme at Emirates
Primary school children celebrate religious diversity
Arsenal in the Community celebrated the finale to its annual Arsenal for Everyone initiative this month. The scheme, which is delivered by the Club and funded by the Premier League – PFA fund draws parallels between the diversity of the Arsenal squad and the Club’s local community. This year, children from 30 local primary schools between the ages of eight – 11 received Religious Education lessons at their school. The lessons which are devised in partnership with the Islington Faith Forum were accompanied by a football coaching session to promote team work and fair play and a trip to Emirates Stadium to put the initiative into context.
Thanks to support from Islington Faiths Forum the finale event gave pupils from St John’s Highbury Vale, Islington and Glebe and Moriah Schools from Harrow an opportunity to learn more about different religions through engagement and small sessions with local representatives from each of the six major world religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. Each representative brought along various items relating to their faith which they used to explain various practices and traditions. As part of the day, children were also invited to participate in a session of music and meditation.
Reverend Fiona Weaver, lead Chaplain London Met University and Islington Faiths Forum members said: “As a confirmed gooner and season ticket holder it was such a privilege to be a part of such an exciting event matching faith and football. Being able to interact with such a diverse group of children -many of whom asked some very good and searching questions - was a positive experience.
I admire the enthusiasm of Arsenal in the Community and hopefully we can make this a regular fixture in the season!”
Alan Sefton, Head of Arsenal in the Community said: “Thanks to funding from the Premier League, we’ve been able to expand our Arsenal for Everyone programme. We hope that drawing upon the experiences of the team and highlighting their different nationalities and faiths, Arsenal Football Club is used as a relevant example of cohesion in action.”
The project focussed primarily on the objectives of the Key Stage 2 national curriculum which includes developing pupils’ knowledge and understanding and exploring faiths to help them understand and respect different values and traditions. The colourful materials used in the classroom draw parallels with Arsenal Football Club and its players. The project’s title and content reflects Arsenal’s ongoing work to celebrate diversity and equality at Arsenal Football Club and the Gunners’ endeavours to attain the advanced level of Kick it Out’s Equality Standard.