It has been eighteen years since we joined the Save the Children’s beneficent initiative, Kilometres of Solidarity. And together with them, we proudly celebrate the coming of age of the race.
Throughout this time, both teachers and students have been involved in this event which, year after year, we try to coincide with the 20th November, International Children’s Rights Day. In this way, we take advantage of this excellent opportunity to work on solidarity values, and we also help develop such a significant value as empathy.
We consider it not just a race; it is an education in values that helps to have a more global vision of the world and open-minded students towards what is happening in other, more disadvantaged countries. Not only is it a commitment among the whole educational community, but it improves some of the problematic situations that many children worldwide are forced to live in.
In our school, we have students who have participated in the race since they entered at three. At first took it as a fun, festive, whole-school activity. They didn’t quite know why they were running but did it, and later they would leave their family contributions to pay for a specific project: wells, schools, health, among others.
In primary school, they had a better understanding of this race and the concept of inequality. For this reason, raising awareness through games, murals, photos, making energy bars, and healthy snacks has been utterly essential to accompany it. In this case, many contributions came not only from the families but also from the children themselves.
As they have grown older, these pupils, now in secondary school, have become more aware of the causes and consequences of this and, although their enthusiasm for running has been less, their critical spirit has increased, investigating and analysing specific data from certain countries. Their more mature minds have allowed them to reflect and open their eyes to social injustices and inequalities, while at the same time, they have been able to acquire an awareness of solidarity and bring their empathy to a more rational interpretation.
Infant and primary school pupils also show empathy but are more emotional. Everything is valid to understand their situation and how children from other parts of the world live. Through the awareness-raising activities carried out in our centre, the pupils see that many children live in a very different way to their own, out of necessity, not because they want to. Being aware of this, both emotionally and rationally, may help them improve the world we live in.
Doing this work in schools is vital for everyone, especially for the pupils, as they can transfer the concept of solidarity to other aspects of their daily lives and, in this way, we may be helping to make the world a little better.
Solidarity projects coordinator.