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Learn to Live: Vanessa Kirby gets behind our campaign to link schools in UK and warzones

The Crown actor backs The Independent's Learn to Live campaign and says she hopes it 'inspires people to overcome their differences and connect with each other'

Anna Davis
Friday 07 September 2018 17:18 BST
Vanessa Kirby backs the Independent's 'Learn to Live' campaign

Actor Vanessa Kirby today joined our “brilliant campaign” to link schoolchildren with youngsters in war zones across the world, as the first schools to take part were revealed.

The Crown actor praised the Learn to Live campaign as she visited one of the pioneering London schools at the heart of the project, saying she hopes it “inspires people to overcome their differences and connect with each other”.

Two London secondary schools, a primary and a pupil referral unit are spearheading the Learn to Live project, which aims to connect children across the globe and increase empathy and understanding.

Pupils will this week start learning about their counterparts in schools in a Syrian refugee camp, the Central African Republic and Iraq.

Ms Kirby, who was announced today as a global ambassador for War Child, visited Betty Layward Primary School in Stoke Newington to show her support for the project.

Pupils there are being twinned with children in Iraq

The actor, who won a Bafta for her portrayal of Princess Margaret in The Crown, said: “Hopefully this campaign will show young people that there are amazing differences but also similarities between them and children around the world.

“Above all I hope it inspires people to overcome their differences and connect with each other. That is exactly what this campaign is doing.”

She said that becoming a global ambassador for War Child was the proudest moment in her life, and visiting refugee camps with the charity completely changed her life.

Vanessa Kirby said that becoming a War Child UK global ambassador was the proudest moment of her life (Alex Lentati)

Speaking about the Learn to Live campaign, she said: “It is such a brilliant idea because it makes the whole understanding of what’s going on around the world for children much closer for them.

“I just think it’s such a brilliant programme and a brilliant idea.”

The star, who appears opposite Tom Cruise in the new Mission:Impossible film, added: “The children we met today were nine and 10 years old and for them talking to other nine and 10-year-olds that are living in refugee camps, writing letters to each other and discussing the differences for the kids, it just feels so much more real.”

She hopes the campaign will “build a lot of empathy” between children.

The Independent launches the #LearnToLive campaign

Pupils from Betty Layward Primary School taught Ms Kirby their favourite playground game, which they will also teach their counterparts in Iraq as part of the project.

At the end of last term, children in our four London schools recorded video messages, introducing themselves to their peers abroad.

This week the twinning will start in earnest. They will take part in their first twinning lessons, and throughout the coming weeks will interact with their new friends and find out more about their lives.

They will write letters, email questions, record videos, and Skype where technology allows, taking part in communal educational projects. During this time, children in all of our schools will grow closer and learn more about life outside of their own immediate worlds.

Briony Blow, a teacher at Betty Layward Primary School, whose class is linking with children from Mosul, Iraq, said: “This is such an important project. We will all be learning as we go along. We don’t want out pupils to feel sorry for the children in Iraq, we want it to be a positive thing.

“I am hoping my class will do assemblies and teach children in the rest of the school about what they learned.”

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