As part of the work we had being doing on the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development every pupil in the juniors received two books on the theme of sustainability from our MP Kevin Brennan.
Of course Millbank pupils have a strong reputation for their environmental work. We were very lucky that the Sustainability & Environment Minister for Wales John Griffiths AM kindly took our school mascot 'Millie Banks' out to the conference in Rio for some photos. You can read about the trip with Peter Davies the Welsh Sustainability Commissioner on his blog. Or explore the Rio+20 webpages to see what was achieved.
As ever we use our weekly parents newsletter to keep the whole school community informed and and we put a link to the UNICEF's Rio petition with Rio Ferdinand and OXFAM's 'Rio Connection.'We want the children to be able to discuss the issues with their family.
The children have been using some old coloured paper to make their own Brazilian Macaws which have messages on them for the 'Future that we want'. We asked them what would they like for the world in the future, just to get them thinking about some of the issues. There were some lovely messages that included:-
~ Everyone in the world knows their Rights.
~ Every child in the world gets to go to school.
~ Clean Water available for everyone in the world.
~ No one gets to go hungry while others waste food.
~ No Litter on our streets
~ Everyone works together to sort out world problems like Climate Change and pollution.
~ Everyone in the world is happy!
You can read lots of other messages from around the world at the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development website; in fact why not add your own!
The children had given up their own time to make the macaws, and had taken the photos of each other (which is why they are pulling funny faces etc!) As you can see they are having lots of fun and are really interested in such things. Each time they made one of the birds they made it a little bit better, adding features and different colours. Importantly for us they also got better at thinking about the messages that they wanted to add.
The children certainly seemed to realise that sustainability is a huge issue covering lots of different and very important areas. "Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." To a child that seems common sense, using up finite resources like petrol and throwing plastic in landfill seems crazy to them but that is what adults have done for many generations. Ban Ki-Moon is the United Nations secretary General and he was quick to point out in his speech ahead of the conference how Sustainable development impacts on world peace.
We have celebrated Peace Day for many years at the school and always used recycled plastic milk bottles to make flowers, windmills and doves of peace. We have always been impressed at the children's creativity.
Mrs Rowland - who also runs the school library- wants everyone to discover the joy of reading and so arranged for some special books to be the basis of the childrens' very own library at home. Our MP had come in to talk to everyone about the Campaign for Global Education so was happy to encourage the children to keep reading. As it is still the UN decade of Literacy and also the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, her book choices for the children were great! We hope that the books will encourage the children and their families to discuss the important issues together.
The first book we gave 'Benny's a champion' was about recycling Bikes which tied in nicely with the work the children had been doing in both Green Gang & Bike Club visiting the local cycle workshop. It does not only suggest we reuse resources like bikes, it shows how we can use skills and ideas to reduce waste and save money. Like most other we are a BikeIt school and the children enjoy cycling and events like having 'DrBike' come in to repair and make sure our cycles are in tip top condition, they regularly tell people about the cycle sales too.
The second book 'Mathias and Amadou: Awakening to development co-operation.' was again spot on with the work the whole school has been doing in helping our friends at the AMAF school in Nairobi. As in the book the children at Millbank collected pencil cases, rulers and pencils to help the children in Kenya (and Gambia previously) as well as raising money for a new water tank. The children here really have made a difference to the lives of others.
As a UNICEF Rights Respecting and a UNESCO Associated school we encourage the children to keep up their fantastic work as outlined in the UNCRC. Article 29. 1d says that education should encourage"The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples...." and 29.1e which says that education should also "...Develop respect for the natural environment." Of course there are lots of other Rights involved such as the Article 17 'the right to information'; Article 13 'the right to an opinion' and Article 31 the 'right to play and take part in artistic activities'.
We'd like also to say a huge thank you to the fantastic staff at the European Commission Office in Wales who helped us with this project, and encouraged the children in their work. Another Thank you to our MP who supports the children in their work and to all the staff and volunteers who give up their own time to work with the children on such projects.