West Virginia University and Morgantowns Suncrest Elementary School have united to teach tolerance and compassion to elementary students dealing with the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedy.

WVU Associate Professor in the College of Human Resources and Education, Joy Faini Saab, together with Suncrest faculty, created a year-long educational program titled Teaching for Tolerance.

“Last spring, we created this program to teach children about friendship, compassion and tolerance,”said Saab, who has been working as a liaison between the public school and WVU since 1991.”We want them to understand the differences and similarities between various nations.”

The class structure uses several instructional toolsthe children act out conflicts and resolutions, write in journals, and learn about many cultures.

“Just recently the kids put on a patriotic concert for their parents,”Saab said.”They learned the songs and then dressed up in red, white and blue. We decided to plan this immediately after the tragedy of Sept.11.”

In addition to participating in the Patriotic Sing-A-Long last weekend with WVU s

choirs, students are now creating”Cards of Compassion”for Afghan children.

Saab calls the project”artistic communication.”

“I am the chair for a program calledA is for Arts,”said Saab,”and my committee wanted to combine with the Teaching for Tolerance in order to educate our kids and have them help the Afghan children at the same time.”

Committee member Patrick Mann, a WVU professor in the College of Business and Economics, found pictures and illustrations of the Afghan children on the Internet. The students were given the photographs and drawings to help them in designing their cards and in knowing that real, needy children would be getting them. The cards were filled with pictures and warm greetings as well as donations.

“The kids are reaching out through their art. They dont speak the same language (as the Afghans), but everyone can understand pictures and compassion,”Saab said.”We are sending them through President Bushs call for aid. We hope that his administration will send the cards along with the check that we are giving.”

The Suncrest faculty asked each child to bring in a donation up to $1 to provide for the Afghan children. Over the past several years, many have been starving because of severe drought. Their suffering has been compounded by the new war.

“We are accepting any size donation to help these unfortunate children,”Saab said.”For some, a dollar might be a lot, but even pennies can buy food.”

For questions or to make a donation, call Saab at 304-293-3441 ext. 1317.