Schools back cultural exchange

THREE schools in the Weston area are taking part in a new cultural exchange project to bring a youth group from South Africa to North Somerset this summer.

THREE schools in the Weston area are taking part in a new cultural exchange project to bring a youth group from South Africa to North Somerset this summer.

Worle Community School, Churchill Community School and Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College will join other schools from around the district in a scheme run by a Portishead businesswoman.

Jayne Morris-Thurgood, who runs organic children's shop Bella Natura, said: "Youth in Action is a cultural exchange project with a difference.

"It involves bringing together young people from schools in North Somerset with a youth group from the Nkomazi Region of Mpumalanga, South Africa.


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"The young South Africans are part of a community-based organisation called Thembalethu, which means 'our hope'.

"A group of 15 young people from Thembalethu will participate in the project and eight schools in North Somerset have already signed up to take part."

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Bella Natura, a not-for-profit company, was set up in order to fund discrete projects with Thembalethu which operates in an area with one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.

It provides support to 4,500 orphans whose lives have been affected by HIV and AIDS.

The young people from Thembalethu engage in a range of activities designed to create local employment opportunities and bring a sense of purpose to their lives.

Jayne added: "The youngsters will use performance as a means of communicating important messages about HIV and AIDS.

"They will also be involved in African dance and music workshops.

"Both primary and secondary school children will benefit from performances and interactions with the young people from South Africa. A number of concerts will also be open to the general public."

Organisers have the daunting task of raising �20,000 to fund the project.

Fund-raising has already started in collaboration with local schools. Organisers will also be bidding for grants and people can donate the project at collection boxes online at www.bellanatura.co.uk

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