12/05/2021 - Children dream of life after the pandemic
Nursery and primary school children in Luton are participating in an exciting project to weave together their dreams into designs for special installations which will appear in Luton’s parks and playgrounds this summer.
This wonderful project developed and commissioned by Luton Council’s Talking Takes Off team in collaboration with the Early Years Alliance, Flying Start and Luton 2040, will inject fun and colour to places visited by children and families and enable children to see their vision of a better future celebrated in paint.
Artists have been recruited to work with children from five Luton nursery and primary schools to think about ‘the places they would like to visit, and things they would like to do when the pandemic is over’. Five professional illustrators will then transform the children’s ideas and drawings into high quality designs to be painted on five star-shaped benches. These benches will be installed in five recreation locations: Wardown Park Arboretum, Stockwood Park, Runley Road Recreation Area, Manor Road Recreation Park and Icknield Recreation Park.
The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed our lives and affected the way we socialise and meet. For children, this has meant learning at home, fewer playdates and after school activities, social distancing and seeing their parents work from home. It has also meant fewer opportunities for children to develop their communication skills and develop relationships with people outside of their families.
Developing inter-cultural and inter-generational communication is a key aim of both the Talking Takes Off project and Harnessing Momentum, the council’s strategy for arts, culture and creative industries, and this project will encourage children to share their dreams with their classmates, educators and families, promoting conversation and communication in all its forms.
The five artists selected from a competitive pool of national applicants - Tom Guilmard, Roo, Alex Edwards Agg, Jenny Cox and Luton’s own Lauren Connolly, have already started interacting with students from River Bank Primary School, Fun to Learn Nursery and pre-school, Chapel Street Nursery School, Park Town Pre-school and Icknield Primary School, encouraging them to play, dream and get excited about sharing their ideas and drawings with each other.
Luton’s own Aaron Spendelow, founder of A Children’s Story, is leading the workshops and said: ‘I am honoured to be the Creative Facilitator for this exciting project which will encourage and enable early years children to use their imagination skills to create stories. In collaborating with Flying Start, Luton 2040, five incredible artists and a selection of local early years children, I believe some incredible bold and bright creations will appear on star benches across the town very soon’.
“Once the benches are painted, the children will be able to recognise themselves and their drawings in the artworks, improving civic pride and their connection to the community.”
Councillor Aslam Khan, portfolio holder for education said: “In the past year, due to the pandemic many creative children’s engagement projects, ideas and investments have slowed down or stopped.
“We believe this is an opportunity to engage deeply with children in an innovative and engaging way and deliver colourful and uplifting pieces of street furniture that will brighten our lives as we return to socialising outdoors over the summer.
“It is such a great idea to have professional illustrators transform the ideas and drawings of children. When the participating children and their families see their drawings immortalised on these fun park benches they will feel a real sense of pride and feel a real connection to the places in which they live, learn and play. I cannot wait to see the final result.”
The project has been funded by the Early Outcomes fund, received from the Department for Education and is specifically designed to develop communication skills in early years children and to promote communication between children and between children and their families.