Older Children aged 8 - 10 work collaboratively on potential designs for a large collage, after completing individual Poppies.
At Clementswood Community Centre over the October half term holidays a series of free art workshops, have developed participants arts skills whilst developing social cohesion. The workshops led by Redbridge Carnival Association have proved to be both popular and rewarding. Children on the course have expressed new found confidence and a desire to learn and have exhibited exception team work skills.
The art workshops have been held in tandem with some inspirational talks from faith leaders, community leaders and groups and have developed the conscience and cultural awareness of local children. The theme for the event was the 99th anniversary of World War 1 and children were taught how the war was a reminder of the futility of hatred. The aims of the project were to provide structured learning and moral direction, in a fun environment.
The 26 particpants on the course so far have spanned 6 faiths and cover a number of cultural and ethnic diversities. Four local primary schools were represented at the event all whom serve the deprived wards of Clementswood and Loxford. Chairman of the Redbridge Carnival Association Wilson Chowdhry said;
"Children have absorbed their learning very well and produced some excellent art work. Many of these children are from severely deprived backgrounds and simply would not be able to afford classes of this nature, outside of this service. Moreover all participants exhibited greater cultural enrichment and a willingness to help one another, which will contribute to a more cohesive local society for posterity."
One of the wonderful poppy designs that became the focus of our message of peace.
Young artists learnt about the reasons for poppies in particular the annual flourishing of poppies in Flanders. So many soldiers were killed in World War 1 at this location, that the disturbance to soil caused by burials induced the otherwise latent poppy seeds to bloom. Bringing a sense of reassurance, life,colour and hope to living soldiers.
Children wrote messages of peace to be read with their poppies.
Children thought long and hard about how to get their peace messages across to children.
Seven volunteers helped artist Madhumita to organise the classroomn activities
The final artwork will be placed in Ilford Library and some will be left as a memorial after the Borough's Rememberance Sunday service.
Hard at work children learnt new art skills whilst also learning about other diversities and the futility of hatred.
Children enjoyed working together on group projects, whilst also designing their own individual designs.
Children were eager to learn and to participate.
Several faiths and all major diversities in the ward were represented in the mix of students.
The children exhibited wonderful caring for others, helping each other and the helpers in setting up the classroom activities.
During any Questions and answers session they all wanted to participate.
The works of art were of a particularly high standard. Attention to detail was inspired through the large number of volunteers.
As they awaited the arrival of Redbridge's Mayor, children all wanted to practice their questions.
Volunteers spoke of how well behaved all the children were.
One of the participants was a child with Autism and he was the first child we have served with such a condition. We overcame this by ensuring the mother stayed with the child throughout the course.
A local teacher from the Local Mosque spoke of the precepts of peace in Islam and his abhorrence for war.
Children listened attentively and asked very pertinent questions. They will also hear from a Nazi Holocaust Survivor, a Local Pastor and from a Hindu speaker as part of an interfaith harmony theme for our sessions.
Children learnt about the need for acceptance and tolerance to build stronger more productive societies.
The Mayor of Redbridge Felicity Banks arrived and received a great welcome.
Wearing her Mayoral Chain Madam Mayor looked authoritative.
Mayor Banks explained how the Mayor was the first citizen of the Borough.
Excited children could not wait to ask their questions.
The Mayor described how she was not able to remove or put on the chain which has to placed upon her under a very tightly controlled traditional method.
Cllr Banks described the individuals parts of the Borough Emblem on her chain, and how is some places she is not allowed to wear the Borough Chain.
Cllr Banks explained how the Borough got its name due to Red Bridge that once spanned the local River Roding. This was after a heated debate and desire for a new name that did not incorporate any existing town name to prevent bias.
26 Children have attended the course of the last 3 days.
Mayor Banks was particularly adept at speaking to children as she was once a Teacher - starting off her career at Barley Lane Primary School.
Some of the volunteers with Mayor Banks.
The Mayor described the contents our Borough emblem to children.
The older Children with Mayor Banks.
Younger children with Mayor Banks.
Everyone was having fun, Mayor Banks spoke warmly of the good nature of the children.
Mayor Banks with a smile every bit as gorgeous as the children. She was one of the warmest Mayor's our group has met.
Children simply enjoyed being around such an important person.
Mayor Banks enjoyed conversations with many of the children.
Volunteers met our Mayor for the first time.
Children kept the mayor with good company.
Mayor Banks was patient with children and shared valuable time with them. They left the days activities very inspired.
The Mayor displayed a lovely "Posh Poppy" that had been donated to a number of Councillors.
Poppies were on show outside our Community Centre.
Children enjoyed their time with the Mayor.
Excitement filled the air.
With so many diversities represented so far this experiment has been a huge success.
Art work produced by children is off the highest calibre.
Children worked on finishing touches of the poppy project.
The accuracy of the shape and type of leaves and poppies were excellent when considering the age of the children.
Children expressed a desire to tell their teachers about the project, so something similar could be done in their schools. They will all be sharing news of the library exhibition with their friends and relatives and seemed very excited about seeing their work in a display.
Participation on the course was extremely encouraging, children seemed relaxed and extremely focused.
Local mothers volunteered and all really enjoyed the experience.
One child expressed their gratitude with an impromptu hug.
Leading to a huge rush towards Mudhumita the artist.
Children simply did not want the course to end and expressed great love for the efforts of Mudhumita.
We thought we would catch the moment in a few more photographs.
Simply an adorable end to the project.