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Harold Wood school's anti-racism campaign gets backing from celebrities

PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 May 2016

Leaving Year 11 students were presented with a special badge by Winston Ellis and Gary Lewin – for their outstanding commitment to the project..

Leaving Year 11 students were presented with a special badge by Winston Ellis and Gary Lewin - for their outstanding commitment to the project..

Archant

A Hollywood actor and the England football team's physiotherapist are just two of the celebrities supporting a school's anti-racism campaign.

Meg Ryan, director of Rainbow Nation at Redden Court School, Cotswold Road, Harold Wood, is aiming to educate and inspire students with the help of the campaign’s patrons, who visit schools and talk about their experiences of racism.

She said: “The ultimate aim is to get primary schools talking about diversity and to encourage students to focus on what they want to achieve.”

The project was set up about four years ago after Meg was inspired by the positive response to a Mandela exhibition held at Redden Court.

Fast forward to 2016 and a meeting with the Prime Minister could be in the pipeline.

Star of films such as The Dark Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean, Winston Ellis, visited Redden Court earlier this year while physiotherapist Gary Lewin spoke to students in 2014.

Havering saw an increase of more than 100 cases of racist and religious hate crime in March compared to the same period in 2015.

Meg said: “I absolutely think that this campaign could help to decrease these crimes as what we are trying to get across is about diversity.

“By us having successful people speaking to students from not only a sport background, but musicians, actors and journalists, we are getting them to focus on their ambitions and their futures so they won’t have any time to get into trouble.”

The Rainbow Nation team met on Wednesday to discuss ideas, including launching a website.

Student Shamson Wahab said: “Rainbow Nation has been a very important part of my school life.

“Speaking in public has increased my confidence and I have met all sorts of interesting people.

“When I go to college in September I want to continue the work there – to have a great website will be wonderful!”

Meg said: “I don’t think it’s just an anti-racism campaign any more but a citizenship campaign, educating young people about different cultures, different ways of life and helping to push them to make a positive step in their own lives.”

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