About 18 months ago, we were approached by the coordinator of the Chippenham Children and Young People’s Parliament to ask if we might find a way of working together on a Chippenham-wide project. She had been inspired to make contact after her daughter’s school had received a visit from one of WDC’s volunteer speakers and couldn’t stop talking about it when she got home that afternoon.
The Parliament, which involves 21 schools representing 8000 children in the local area, has a number of priority issues that it works on, one of those being the environment. It made perfect sense for the two groups to work together with the topic of litter and how it makes its way into the marine environment being agreed upon as something relevant to both.
With the help of funding from Chippenham Borough Lands we set about giving a series of interactive assemblies and workshops at the schools. Along with artist Sonia Shomalzedeh (who gave her time for free) and volunteer Bernard Purrier, we worked with the schools to create large dolphin sculptures made from scrap material, and a group of children from the Parliament wrote articles for various magazine and websites to help raise awareness of the project.
This week, the resulting pieces of artwork have gone on display in the town’s medieval Yelde Hall. The hall is open to the public from 10:30-3:30 Monday to Saturday, and the dolphins should be available to see until at least Monday 26th January.
Some of the children’s messaging and why they were inspired to get involved is also there for the public to see. Messages such as:
‘Littering rivers and oceans is as bad as littering someone’s home…it can be fatal for some speices of sea life’ – Callum and Joel, Frogwell School
‘We chose to do this because we were concerned about the litter being thrown in the river and going out to sea. This can harm animals as they eat it’ – Jessica, Lacock Primary
‘Stop litter, save oceans’ – Megan, Redland Primary
‘We decorated dolphins using litter and created creatures on the dolphin to show that littering is bad and it can kill all of the creatures on land and in the ocean’ – Liam and Katie, Kington St Michael CE Primary
We know that children can influence adult behaviour, and that they will make a difference to the future of the planet and its oceans. The pupils of Chippenham want people to know that you don’t have to live by the sea to make that difference, and I think their enthusiasm, knowledge and creativity will win people over!