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Schoolchildren learn ballet to tackle racism and homophobia

The anti-bullying project will cover challenging subjects such as bigotry, ableism and transphobia.

Schoolchildren are learning ballet to tackle challenging subjects such as racism, homophobia, bigotry, ableism and transphobia.

Scottish Ballet’s new anti-bullying programme ‘Safe to be Me’ will be rolled out to primary schools across the country this year.

The project engages with primary six pupils, aged nine to 11, to explore themes that include identity, tolerance, acceptance, respect, ethnic and family diversity and LGBTQ+ communities.

Pupils are introduced to the themes by a team of experienced dancers in the weeks leading up to watching a performance, which is choreographed by Scottish Ballet’s engagement creative director, Lorraine Jamieson.

The pupils then take part in a full-day workshop where they have the opportunity to create their own ‘Safe to be Me’ performance – encouraging each of them to express who they are.

Catherine Cassidy, director of engagement at Scottish Ballet, said: “As one of Scotland’s national performing companies, we are proud to present this programme that celebrates diversity and inclusion.

“Safe to be Me is a creative performance project that reflects our communities’ values, encouraging ten-year-old pupils to celebrate difference and gain respect for themselves and one another.”

Lynne Connolly, global head of diversity and inclusion at Aberdeen Standard Investments added: “The Safe to be Me initiative is a powerful tool to help Scotland’s children develop compassion for others and confidence in themselves. Inclusive workplaces are better for people and better for business – but to fully succeed we need to evoke change across society.

“That includes helping our young people on the right path and I can’t think of a more compelling way to engage children than dance and performance in a supportive environment.”

A teacher from a school that was involved with the pilot workshops earlier this year said: “The whole experience has been absolutely amazing, and I think it will have a massive lasting impact on the class.

“The results were beautiful and effective.”

A P6 pupil commented on one of the pilot workshops, and said: “We learned about how people can be different and nobody is the same, and it’s okay to be different.”

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