Adopt-A-School: Booklet helps refugee students in Surrey

posted on December 6, 2019

By Vancouver Sun |

It’s a sparsely written 24 pages, but if anyone wants to understand the trauma and bewilderment that child refugees bring with them to Canada, half an hour with “We Are Here Now” should do it.

This booklet found in Surrey school libraries contains 13 stories with illustrations by child storytellers, produced as a result of the school district’s Expressive Arts program.

The program uses visual art, creative writing, music, dance, plays, and is designed to offer release from the suppressed fears preventing these refugee children from coping with school.

“It’s a safe way for them to explore their experiences other than just talking about it,” says Peta Schur, an Expressive Arts therapist who has been working in Surrey since 2012.

The program is offered to small groups of child refugees in 13 elementary and secondary schools by seven therapists. They work with about 280 children a year.

“The number depends on funding. If we had more money, we could reach more children.”

The program is operated from the school district’s English Language Learning centre on King George Boulevard, and the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School program is being asked for $6,000 to help support it.

Schur said refugees can be expected to struggle at school under normal circumstances, considering they have to learn a new language, are living in a different culture with different customs and often living in poverty.

Some have never had formal schooling in their home countries, others had their education interrupted.

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