Before moving here last June to work for the East Lothian-Barga Twinning Project as part of my ‘year abroad programme’ at Edinburgh university, I made a visit to Longniddry Primary School which is twinned with Barga Elementare. (twinning ceremony here) I met with the head teacher, Catherine Jack, who had already been planning a visit to Barga for her Primary Seven class in May this year. We excitedly exchanged ideas about how to strengthen the already deep-seated Scottish-Italian cultural link which exists here through so many different mediums – with art and music being two such important domains which have continued to be strong incentives for this particular twinning, we thought we’d try something a bit different.
Catherine told me about the work her Primary Seven class were doing on the ‘John Muir Award’, which is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It raises awareness and encourages responsibility for the natural environment through adventure and exploration – exhilarating work and much fun for the children! Although thinking the proposal to be a bit risky given that all administrative work would have to done in English and that the award was mostly concentrated in Britain, Catherine asked me to suggest to the Insituto Comprensivo di Barga that they, too, could perhaps be part of the project and work alongside the children of Longniddry Primary School: we would be the first twinned community to have completed the award together.
The idea was perfect and, upon my first meeting with the Barga teaching staff in September last year, I presented the ‘Four Challenges’ plan which forms the ground-work for the Award (Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share), and explained the significance this kind of project would have for both schools and their communities. Without establishing an absolute decision to go ahead with the proposal, I left the staff all information on the work which they would have to undertake should the project go ahead.
The enthusiasm for the scheme, which began to permeate through the school on the part of both pupils and teachers in the next months, was simply amazing. Each class in the school began researching the cause, collecting information on John Muir and chose their ‘wild place’ in which they would focus their ‘Four Challenges’. I immediately contacted the John Muir Trust and our proposal form was accepted.
Since then, the children at Barga Elementare have been involved in ‘litter pick-up projects’ around Barga, taken trips to record their findings in local woods and beaches, made posters and petitions to keep Barga’s parks and playgrounds well looked after, and using John Muir’s doctrine on understanding and respecting the importance of nature as an inspiration, have produced beautiful poetry, art, photography and film.
In the next week, with the arrival of Longniddry Primary pupils, each child involved will complete the final ‘Sharing’ stage of the scheme with a presentation in Renaio and will receive official certificates for their work. Photos will then be put on the John Muir Trust bulletin which is seen worldwide. The children of Barga will be international stars and everyone will know about their fantastic work.
Article by Emma Morton
L’istituto Comprensivo di Barga da alcuni anni sta partecipando attraverso attivita’ didattiche ad uno scambio culturale con alcune scuole scozzesi di East Lothian : in particolare la scuola primaria di Barga e’ gemellata con la Longniddry Primary school.
In quest’anno scolastico e’ stato realizzato un lavoro legato alla salvaguardia, alla conservazione dei boschi e delle aree verdi del nostro paese; tali attivita’ sono state inserite in un piu’ ampio progetto: “John Muir Award”, che vede impegnata anche la Longniddry Primary School. A tale progetto hanno partecipato i ragazzi delle classi terze, quarte e quinte della nostro scuola.
Durante tutto l’anno scolastico i ragazzi, seguendo le tracce inviate dagli amici scozzesi, hanno cercato e scoperto piante e animali tipici di quell’ambiente.
Le attivita’ portate avanti, dalle classi coinvolte, sono state numerose:
ricerche sul territorio, realizzazione di cartelloni, disegni con diverse tecniche, testi, poesie, cartografia, partecipazione, manifestazioni e progetti legati al rispetto dell’ambiente (Puliamo il Mondo e Infea), realizzazione di testi poetici ispirati al bosco.
Al termine del lavoro, i ragazzi, hanno organizzato dei dibattiti in cui ogni gruppo ha fatto conoscere agli altri le proprie scoperte e messe confronto le diverse ipotesi per giungere ad una proficua tutela di questi luoghi cosi’ importanti per la nostra vita.
I ragazzi sentono l’esigenza di coinvolgere anche gli adulti e le Autorita’ locali per realizzare il loro sogno e per questo si auspicano che vengono svolte numerose attivita’ legate al rispetto dell’ambiente anche negli anni a venire. Le classi coinvolte hanno partecipato al progetto con grande entusiasmo e sensibilita’ e sono molto felici ed emozionate di poter convidere fra breve il loro lavoro con i ragazzi scozzesi che fra pochi giorni saranno ospiti nella nostra scuola.
The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration. The Award is open to all, and is the educational initiative of the John Muir Trust. Four Challenges are at the heart of each John Muir Award; discover – explore – conserve – share