Make poverty the issue with your class

24th June 2005 at 01:00
Huw Thomas explains how the G8 summit events can be made real for children.

The huge "Make Poverty History" demonstration in Edinburgh, which is targeting the G8 summit of the world's richest leaders, is a week away.

Over the course of that week 210,000 children will die as a result of such poverty.

As these days pass there are a few activities we can put on in our schools to raise children's awareness of the event and play a part in the campaign.

Wherever you are going to be on July 2, here are some things we can all do in primary schools next week.

Explain: our kids will see it on the news, but we are their teachers. Try explaining who these eight leaders are and what the campaign wants them to do.

Whether it is a diagram on the board or cuttings from the paper, teachers all have their own ways of communicating. In my case it was eight kids at the front of assembly, all pretending to be a world leader, with one of them acting out Tony Blair, taking our message to the meeting.

Wear: many schools have sold white bands from one of the agencies, and the wristband craze seems to reach up beyond the elbow. This week why not ask your class to make white bands out of paper. They can decorate them with their own message to our world leaders, then wear it at the weekend.

Strip: once you have done the wrist, what other bands can you make? White paper strips can be versatile - can you make one all around the walls of the classroom or the school hall, sporting the "make poverty history" message in various lettering styles and colours? You could translate and write it in as many languages as possible.

And while we are thinking visible white bands, why not make some white paper-chains to mark the event?

Write: it is not too late to send a message to Downing Street. Early next week you can ask your children to put their thoughts on to a letter or postcard and send them off. The family of Catholic schools in Sheffield despatched the largest postcard ever sent to Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to push forward moves to provide primary education for all.

Big it up: you are in a school and it has windows. I know of one school where they are using the prominence of their windows, looking out over the city, and creating huge letters that spell out the poverty message to all who may be passing. Find a set of windows and create your own large letters, sending the message outwards to parents and passers-by.

Sing: while Edinburgh marches, London will be singing. You may not have made it through the text lottery for a Live8 ticket, but you could still organise your own talent concert at school, interspersing the acts with messages about the campaign.

Do something: our children are in primary school at the start of a drive to eradicate poverty, and it is our job to inspire them. Make it fun and focused on the issues but, this week, do something.

Follow through: after the G8, turn this into a meaningful, long-term commitment by making a partnership with a school in Africa. Swap artwork, letters, do joint projects, and send teachers to visit each other's school as a living resource. You will be amazed what you can learn from each other and how it will benefit both schools.

Huw Thomas is a primary headteacher in

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