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Festival shows harmony starts with the children

Photos: Brett Atkins

Thousands of families and children turned Campbelltown’s iconic Koshigaya Park into a joyous kaleidoscope of colour and culture last Sunday for Macarthur’s biggest celebration of cultural diversity.

Now in its second year, the Macarthur Multicultural Children’s Festival celebrated our community’s rich multicultural fabric with a fun day out, hands-on activities and non-stop entertainment.

Festival director Brian Laul, said that this event was a great way to bring the community together while highlighting the importance of cultural diversity.

“The festival is an opportunity to learn about different cultures by enjoying traditional performances, sampling food and understanding more about a friend’s culture by getting involved in the many activities; it is a great way to celebrate two of our community’s most treasured assets: multiculturalism and our children,” Mr Laul said.

From the Punjabi bhangra and Latin American salsa to Maori haka, Scottish sword dance and Nepalese folk dances, centre stage exploded in a riot of cultural colour and beats.

Among the many activities from around the globe, visitors enjoyed themselves making Pacific lolly leis, threading African bracelets, learning to write their names in Arabic, checking out the intricacies of a Sikh turban and taking part in Indigenous games.

Dr Mike Freelander, Federal Member for Macarthur, told the huge crowd present that the Macarthur Multicultural Children’s Festival was of major significance to the region.

“The multicultural community here in Macarthur are strong, resilient, accepting and integral to our local identity. Together we are stronger as a community with all of our varying heritages and I am pleased that these values of acceptance, respect and tradition are being instilled into our children in Macarthur,” Dr Freelander said.

Through the day more than 900 children from 60 community groups performed on the main stage and marched in the grand parade and came together after lunch to lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of I Am Australian that had everyone present  in Koshigaya Park singing along as one.

The Children’s Festival was founded by Vietnamese refugee Thuat Nguyen, who had the vision that children who played together lived together in harmony.

“We believe that children are a starting point in building social cohesion and therefore this festival is our best way to create harmony in our community and to make everyone feel proud to be Australians,” Mr Nguyen said.

This year, the festival incorporated the Harmony Walk which was led by Holocaust survivor Ernie Friedlander, founder of Moving Forward Together, who shared a powerful personal story about reconciliation.

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