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Crawley College ‘honoured and humbled’ by special visit from children of Chernobyl

It’s the simplest things that can put the biggest smiles on children’s faces.

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That was the lesson for healthcare and childhood studies students at Crawley College last week, as they discovered when they spent a morning with children from Chernobyl.

The students entertained the children, aged from seven to 12, with a number of hands-on activities – from painting to football – and in return were treated to beaming smiles, hugs and songs.

Every year, the children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster visit Sussex for four weeks as a respite break thanks to the charity ‘Friends of Chernobyl’s Children’.

And for the past seven years, students and staff at Crawley College have been working with the charity – providing fun activities as well as fundraising support.

Last year the college raised more than £1,800 for the charity – enough to sponsor two boys to come to the UK this summer.

Lecturer Kirsty Robinson has spearheaded the college’s involvement since 2012. She said:

“Although it has been more than 30 years since the Chernobyl disaster, it still has a massive impact on families from the area.

“For some, they have suffered health problems but many families live in abject poverty as a result of the disaster. The area has never recovered economically and it is hard to imagine what life is like for these children.

“For us, it is humbling. For our students, they have an opportunity to learn about the children and how their lives can be transformed.

“We have the honour and privilege of meeting some truly special young people. It is remarkable.”

Crawley College student Shannon Wilson added:

“I think we all enjoyed the morning with the children from Chernobyl.

“I’ve learnt a lot and I have a lot more knowledge and understanding about how they live, but they are still so happy. I think it puts a lot of things into perspective.”

Sheila Nash is the co-ordinator the Mid-Sussex group for the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children.

She said:

“All of us involved with FOCC Mid Sussex are really grateful for the wonderful support the Crawley College staff and students have given us over the years – both the fun activities they provide for our kids each summer and the amazing fundraising effort last year, which will more than pay for our little twins’ visit this summer and some towards the next year.

“It’s so good that both our children and the Crawley students benefit so much from the link we have created.”

Education

Crawley teacher wins Sussex teacher of the year award

It’s been an outstanding few weeks for Hannah Joyner a Learning Mentor at Thomas Bennett Community College who has been awarded Wellbeing Champion of the Year at the Sussex Teacher of the Year awards ceremony.

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Working closely with students at the school Hannah offers outstanding pastoral support and always goes the extra mile. 

The heartfelt nomination was written by a student who said:

“She makes the school a better place where we feel like there is someone supporting us all the way”.

It’s clear to see that Miss Joyner loves her job and says “The students at the school are outstanding young people who are a pleasure to work with.  Hearing such wonderful words from a student validates why I enjoy what I do”.

Offering students excellent pastoral care and ensuring they feel supported at school is so important.  The students at Thomas Bennett Community College are obviously appreciative of the wonderful work the school do and this is so lovely to hear.

Headteacher Stuart Smith said:

“The whole school community are very proud of Miss Joyner for winning the Wellbeing Champion award and for making such an important contribution to the lives of our students.”

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