Who wants to #MakeaDifference?

How can we support children to embrace diversity and to understand that their words and actions have impact? The I Am Me Team blogs for PINS on an exciting new resource, the I Am Me Scotland Education Platform

I Am Me Scotland is an award winning charity that aims to ensure everyone can feel safe within their communities. We are a tiny team of 4 with huge ambitions and achievements and these can be evidenced through some of our recent awards including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which recognises the unique and refreshing community involvement that drives the strategic and operational aims for the charity. We were gifted a bus from Stagecoach which we had converted into a mobile Cinema and Education Unit – The Cinebus!  The Cinebus was used to deliver the #MakeaDifference programme to over 10,000 children a year for the past four years.

And then COVID-19 struck……
Ever heard the phrase each challenge brings new opportunity? Well we needed to look for new opportunities to survive as a charity.  After the initial panic we turned our attentions on how best we can ensure that all the progress we had made over the past few years could continue.  We also understood the challenges that teachers were facing with the uncertainty around school learning, home learning, blended learning and the reality of no learning.

The #MakeaDifference programme was developed with children, young people and people who have disabilities. The lessons were already a success, the feedback over the years had proven that.  So the challenge was how do we harness what works with the realisation that face to face interaction and the excitement of the Cinebus (not to mention our wonderful, engaging personalities) contributed to that success? 

We decided to make something new, something interactive, exciting, engaging but also educational.  Something that children could use at home or teachers could deliver from the classroom.  An easy task?

Actually, not so easy, but a learning curve and an exciting journey for the team.  After many a late evening and many months of learning, building, designing, learning and re-building, we have finally launched a whole new learning platform that is fully flexible, accessible and interactive too. Welcome to the I Am Me Scotland Education Platform

Resource lessons are designed to support Curriculum for Excellence Health and Wellbeing Experiences and Outcomes.  Each lesson includes animations and films and is accompanied by a suite of resources and activities designed for each year. Each lesson has audio and closed captions available to ensure inclusion for children.

So what are the aims of the lessons?
The lessons have been designed to be progressive.  Primary 1 begins as an introduction to disability/difference through to Primary 7 which focuses on a range of physical and hidden disabilities, the impact of bullying and the consequences of hate crime.  The lessons aim to encourage children to embrace diversity and to understand that their words and actions have impact.

So how do you access these amazing resources?
The platform is available at – https://iammescotlandeducation.org.uk The #MakeaDifference option is for primary schools. The I Am Me option is currently being developed for secondary schools and will be available early next year. By taking a subscription the school has unlimited use for a full year. The enhanced option gives you the opportunity to get your very own bespoke and branded lesson unique to your school.  All you need to do is let us know the age range and what the lesson aims are and we will design something for you to use.

I am me Scotland
We are Kieran, Molly, Carol and Mhairi – The I Am Me Team. Please get in touch for more information – iamme@renfrewshire.gov.uk

Art and Activism with children and young people

Rumpus Room is a notforprofit artist-led initiative dedicated to collaborative art practice which is rooted in mutual exchange with children and young people in order to challenge how we play, learn and make art.

We are continuously in awe of the children and young people we work with and for; the care they have for their planet and their desire and drive for climate action. Together (pre-covid, during lockdown and into our recovery) we have collectively explored how we can act and adapt through making art and being creative together.

In 2019, we set up our Rumpus Room open studio in Govanhill Glasgow. The studio is run by artists and hosts a programme of youth-led creative activity. The studio is a shared experimental creative space where children, young people and families can work independently and in collaboration with experienced artists, musicians and performers.

Quite early on in the studio set up, children and young people approached us to help them make banners and posters for the international Youth Climate Strikes in September 2019. They shared their wants to involve themselves in climate action, making sure we nurture our land and the nature that lives and grows here. From this session, the self-initiated Young Activist Group was formed, with the children and young people running it with Rumpus Room as hosts.

“Don’t treat earth like Uranus”

– Young Activist Group protest poster slogan

Climate change is a children’s human rights crisis because it will affect children now and in the long term. Climate change puts children and young people’s basic rights at risk and it gets in the way of our air being clean; of our communities being filled with flowers, bees and butterflies; of our rivers and seas being cool enough to encourage marine life. Climate change prevents children around the world from accessing their right to clean water and food, education, a home and protection.

During lockdown we continued to meet online with the Young Activist Group and explore issues that were important to them during this uncertain time through making art, creating actions and sharing ideas together.

“We talked about positive changes that might come out of lockdown – cycling, ideas of the word wild/wilderness, waste, community and how we’ve had to adapt.”

– Young Activist Group member.  

We asked the children and young people of Govanhill ‘when the world reopens post-COVID… what do you want to be in it?

“Continue a world of care, looking out for neighbours, helping others, enjoy a slow-paced life, having the time for others.”
“I want to start thinking about my future, I want to leave a lot of stuff behind.”
“A better community.”

The children and young people’s responses were overwhelmingly positive with care at the core of their vision of a post-COVID world. They wanted to care for their communities and for the planet along with the continuation of mutual-aid and the forming of stronger support bonds within and between families.  

From this, the Young Activist group co-produced a digital magazine with artist Lucy Grainge and writer/activist Rosemarie Geary with a series of creative tasks to do with children and young people and help them consider climate activists, the environment, and art. Here are a few:

• Write a news headline for the future about the climate: one positive and one negative – you could chop up all newspaper headlines also then add in your own word. Choose a year: 2050, 2100, 3000.

• Make a protest poster: posters are a very powerful tool for communicating a message quickly. We want you to make your own. Think about what words you would like on it? And will there be an image? How will it grab attention?

• Find a plant or tree you can look at each day. Redraw it for 5 mins each day for a week. Notice how things change. Do the leaves bend or change colours? Do they have any visits? Does it change depending on what time of the day you observe it?

“Fight climate change or die frying”

– Young Activist Group protest poster slogan

It is really important to the Young Activist Group that climate change does not get forgotten about during the Covid-19 crisis and instead we consider how to be green. It is our role at Rumpus Room to listen and take children and young people seriously; be creative together, and support them to feel empowered and to act.

You can view the magazine made by the group below.

Scan the QR code for instant access to the Adapt + Act worksheets online. Intended to be used as an open source resource by anyone, anywhere.

Rumpus Room
Catrin Jeans, Nadia Rossi and Rachel Walker