Thursday, 14 July 2011

World Cultural Ambassadors - Panama

Sunday Sun Column by Alan Ross, 
Sunday 10th July 2011

It’s great when you are unexpectedly bowled over by how good something is.  I’m delighted to say that this happened to me this week, when I popped into Billingham South Community Primary School to see some of the work that they’d produced for a special project.

I’m very pleased to be officially opening this year’s Billingham International Folklore Festival, a wonderful week of dancing, music and colour with groups and artistes from all over the world that takes place at the start of August.  This year’s festival is the 47th, and funding from the Big Lottery Fund has enabled them to involve children from local schools in the event.

The youngsters at Billingham South Community Primary School decided to learn all about Panama – one of the countries represented in this year’s Festival – and this went right the way through all their studies, not just geography.

From science to computer studies, art to gardening, there’s been a real buzz about the school, and this week the children got to see their art displayed in a “Gallery” arranged by their art teacher Christine Charlton, who has been a real driving force for the activities.  They raised money for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Charity, by charging admission – the proceeds to go to a project in Panama!

If one of the children’s pictures from the school is judged the best, the artist will become a “World Cultural Ambassador” during the Festival itself, and take part in all the fun and ceremony in and around John Whitehead Park.  It’ll be something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

The colour and diversity of the children’s work was fantastic. They are even growing  the kind of plants and flowers you’d find in Panama, having created a “rainforest” climate in one of their greenhouses in the school garden.   I left being thoroughly impressed with all the work and effort. Full marks from me for everyone, not least their dedicated and proud teachers ! 

View Panama Picture Gallery 

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