Hello everyone at St Paul’s RC primary in Paulsgrove who have all had a special (and very interactive!) assembly about making friends through sport this week with our Education Volunteers, Isobel and Patrick Flynn.
You may remember their last visit to St Paul’s when they talked about the Year of Mercy. Well, Patrick said, “We were welcomed back like members of the family!”
The assembly began with prayer and the lighting of the CAFOD candles. Isobel and Patrick reminded the children that last week was the first anniversary of Laudato Si’ – Pope Francis’ letter to the world, in which he asked everyone to ‘Care for our Common Home’ and each other.
They went on to say that compassion and kindness are key features of the Year of Mercy and then reviewed the ‘Corporal Works of Mercy’. The children were then asked to think about which of the Corporal Works of Mercy could best be applied to sports and games.
To help them with this, Patrick and Isobel asked the children what sports they liked to play. A sea of hands were raised as the children told them about their love of tag, hide and seek, catch, football, swimming, cycling and tennis.
Patrick told us,
“Following this, some talented and enthusiastic ‘volunteers’ mimed a selection of sports that we’ll soon see in the Olympic games this summer. It was wonderful to hear that many of these sports are also played by children from St Paul’s! That morning a large group was departing for a swimming gala, and the school has a very popular cycle club. We expect many of the children will be in training for this year’s Sports Day which is eagerly awaited!”
Isobel and Patrick explained that playing sport helps to develop important values such as friendship, sharing and solidarity. CAFOD agrees with this and thinks that playing sport and games helps us to make friends, show respect, to play fair, treat people with dignity, and work together.
As the children knew, the 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games will be held in Brazil this year. Patrick and Isobel explained that even though Brazil is not one of the poorest countries in the world, we still see great poverty there. It is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest country in the world.
Millions of people in Brazil live in poor housing called Favelas. They are homes that are made with anything the families can find, bricks, mud, corrugated iron and even cardboard. These are not ideal places to live, but millions of people do not have a choice. These Favelas can usually be found around the city, even in the hills surrounding large cities. The people here often work together to do things to make life better for themselves and their children. Patrick and Isobel then invited the children to meet Rogerio and Andreia (see above) who come from Brazil. They live in Peixinhos in North East Brazil. They both like playing Brazil’s favourite sport – football!
Playing football though is much more than just a game for them. They are part of a special project funded by CAFOD which helps children who live in favelas, which can be dangerous places. There is often violence between gangs and this means that children have to spend time indoors and so can’t make friends.
Andreia says that she used to be sad and feel lonely but going to the football project has helped her make friends. She also says that, “we want to play and we cannot because there is so much violence on the street.” However, she says that she feels safe when she is at the project with her friends.They go to a special project funded by CAFOD for boys and girls and one of the activities which they both love taking part in is being part of the football team. The project offers two football workshops each week. 50 children and young people attend each of them. 8 young people from the project are now playing in local football clubs as a result of partnerships created with football clubs in 2013.
In 2014 two football tournaments were organised by the children. One football tournament had the aim of bringing together groups of young people that are rivals. The organisers hope that having learnt to play football together without fighting and arguing, they will be more likely to not fight in the streets of their community.
“We ended by saying that it’s really important for us to use our God-given talents to the best of our ability. We may not be as good at some sports as other people are but we should be pleased for those who have such talent. If we are better at some sports that other people, we should congratulate them for their efforts and always be gracious in our success. This really is such an important thing to remember!
“Looking around the assembly hall we saw that one of the school’s objectives is ‘to try our best’ and this is what we should always try to do when we reach out to ‘Welcome the Outsider’ too”
Thinking back to their last assembly on that theme, children from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 then presented Isobel and Patrick with Lampedusa Cross inspired messages of hope that they had written for refugees.
One message (from Lola) said, “Do not give up hope. Even when there are sad and worrying times, God, Jesus and friends will always be with you”.
Another message (from Rella) said “God will shower blessings upon you so you can reach a safe country. We will keep you in our prayers”.
Tallulah said “I want to let you know, wherever you are in the world at the moment, you are not alone. My friends and I will pray for you for as long as it takes to make you safe”. Thank you all! Patrick and Isobel will now send these to CAFOD and they will be sent on to be shared with refugees in the UK or around the world.
Thank you to everyone at St Paul’s for all your support for our work and to Patrick and Isobel for carrying out such a lovely assembly too.