Children wearing red T-shirts in solidarity with refugees

Bernard Dunleavy says drowning of Aylan Kurdi moved people around world to respond

Pupils of Mount Temple Take part in red tshirt day. Photograph: Stephen McCullagh

Pupils of Mount Temple Take part in red tshirt day. Photograph: Stephen McCullagh


An initiative started by a Dublin man in response to the image of a three-year-old drowned refugee is being replicated around the world.

Bernard Dunleavy was moved by the sight of Aylan Kurdi whose washed up body provoked shock and revulsion and prompted European governments to act to alleviate the refugee crisis.

Mr Dunleavy noticed the child was wearing a red T-shirt. In response, he asked his own four children who attend Scoil Mhuire in Howth to wear red in solidarity with Syrian refugees.

That gesture has been transformed into an international day of solidarity for refugees with schoolchildren being asked to wear something red to school.

Pupils encouraged To date, schools in Scotland, the United States, Australia, Indonesia, India and Peru have all encouraged their pupils to wear red to school on Wednesday.

Hundreds of schools in Ireland are also participating in the initiative.

Mr Dunleavy described the response to his initiative which occurred only 27 days ago as “absolutely extraordinary”.

“I was hoping that our local national school would participate. Then one by one all the schools in the (Howth) peninsula said they would take part,” he said. “When people started contacting me from abroad, I was absolutely flabbergasted. It was a measure of how deeply affected people were by that image.

“Parents needed some way to explain what was happening without frightening or upsetting them. Schools need to engage with this issue, but in an apolitical way.”

Those participating in the initiative are asked to contribute to Goal by texting to 50300 with the password Goal4. The cost of each text is €4.