BOLTON boxing brothers Amir and Haroon Khan have thrown their weight behind a multicultural poetry project.

Amir described the Mother Tongue Other Tongue project, which gets schoolchildren to write poetry in their non-English native language, or a second language, as a “fantastic project”.

The Olympic silver medallist and world champion said: “This is an initiative which helps to bring better understanding between the many diverse people that make up this great country.

“It’s a chance for us to celebrate multiculturalism and for us to get to know one another even better. Speaking another language is a great asset to have and to express that through poetry shows a really high level of skill.

“It’s something to truly admire because, like boxing, it’s not easy to do. I encourage all the young people to enjoy the competition and to give it a go.”

Haroon Khan represented Pakistan in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where he won a bronze medal.

He said: “This is a brilliant competition and one that can help break down barriers. I give my full backing to it and wish everyone competing the very best.

“It’s a chance to be creative and express yourself in your mother tongue or in a language which you are not so familiar with.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone taking part to learn and progress which is really excellent to see.”

Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a Laureate Education Project headed by Carol Ann Duffy, who is also Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The project takes the form of a series of regional competitions, which will be split into two parts.

“Mother Tongue” will see children who do not have English as a first language write about what a lullaby, poem or song in their native language means to them, while as part of “Other Tongue” pupils will create an original poem in a second language that they are learning at school.

Prof Duffy said: “The competition is a unique opportunity for pupils whose first language is not English and those learning another language at school to showcase their creative and linguistic talents and to have their work published in an anthology.”

The project is being run by the university and language education network Routes into Languages.

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