On 8 November 2014 the Hamilton CBD came alive in a spectacle of colour, creativity, music and dance with the first ever Enviroschools Children’s Parade. The parade was the culmination of a year of exploration and learning that embodied the Enviroschools principles of empowering students to create sustainable communities. Students and teachers explored their local place by asking big questions like:
- What do we know about our place?
- What makes it special?
- What do we want for our future?
Students developed and designed their walkable parade art after researching and focusing on their big ideas. For example Tauwhare School’s parade was titled “Our future is a clean stream, with fish and places to swim”. Rhode Street School was “Our place where we live and grow together; and Miller Ave from Paeroa was “Saving the Taniwha”. The parade was led out from the Ferrybank on Grantham St by the Sambatrons and Free Lunch stiltwalkers. It travelled up Victoria Street and finished in Garden Place with a celebration event involving Sambatron, Hamilton’s rock robots “The Trons”, students, whanau and community. An exhibition of the Children’s Parade was held at Waikato Museum from 17 December – 2 March 2015.
Teachers were supported throughout the year by the team of 6 Waikato Enviroschools Facilitators, three regional teacher workshops, a specially designed teacher resource and three creative workshops for students and teachers that were held in Hamilton, Paeroa and Taupo. At these workshops local artists gave tips on creating spectacular parade art on a shoestring budget.
Schools travelled from as far as Taupo and Tuakau to take part in the event with about 350 children taking part on the day. 260 students from 26 schools attended the Children’s Creative Workshops held in Hamilton, Paeroa and Taupo in August; 45 teachers from 37 schools attended the teacher workshops at the beginning of the year.
The idea for the parade was initially inspired by the Brighton Children’s Parade in the UK while also building on a commitment by the Waikato Enviroschools team to deliver powerful end of year events that celebrate learning and action.