Students brought together by Bethlehem B&NES link

Published on: 09 Nov 2013

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Around 70 Palestinian secondary school students travelled to Bath and North East Somerset last month for a packed week of activities – and pupils at Wellsway School helped welcome them.

Bethlehem-B&NES Links Youth Sports and Dance Festival took place from October 21-26, with the visitors competing against their hosts in football, netball, volleyball, table tennis and basketball, with taster sessions for rugby and hockey included as well.

Twelve schools in the area took part and many of the visitors were hosted by B&NES athletes’ families and, in addition to sport, a series of cultural workshops were held for the students to learn more about each others’ lives and countries.

Wellsway seized the opportunity to get involved from an early stage led by Louise Riddoch, director of specialism, providing facilities for training throughout the summer, and during the festival itself. After cultural workshops on the Wednesday morning, test matches were opened with a flourish in the main sports hall with a performance by the Bethlehem dancers. 

A series of social events were held during the festival, including a welcome party at Bath Spa University’s Burdall’s Yard, a civic reception at Bath’s Guildhall, and a farewell party at the end of Finals Day at St Gregory’s School. Bethlehem-B&NES link

Youth Sports and Dance Festival coordinator Sally Potter said: “We loved having Wellsway involved in the event, and are hugely grateful for their support. We couldn’t have done it without the commitment and generosity of the schools, coaches, head teachers and coordinators who worked with us. My personal thanks go to Lou, her colleagues and students for their fantastic support of the festival.”

The Youth Sports and Dance Festival 2013 was the flagship event for Bethlehem-B&NES Links and the start of a more wide-reaching project to link the two regions. In addition to planning a return visit to Bethlehem for the B&NES athletes, further links are planned to foster business and other community links, delivering commercial opportunities as well as breaking down negative perceptions of Palestine and building understanding between the two cultures.

For further details about Bethlehem-B&NES Links, see www.bethlehem-banes.com or contact founder Peter Downey on 07976 664939.

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