Merton secures money for Commonwealth Games project

Schools will create Forest of Dreams project

Merton Council?s Ethnic Minority Achievement Service has been awarded £5,000 after a successful bid to the Commonwealth Institute, a group helping to organise the Commonwealth Games 2002.

More than 20 schools in Merton will use the money to take part in the Forest of Dreams project that will involve the creation of three ?trees? that students will post their thoughts on concerning global issues and their hopes for the future. The trees will then be ?planted? in prominent positions around the borough.

The Games take place in Manchester this summer and the Institute has launched the Spirit of Friendship fund to support projects taking place in connection with the Commonwealth Games.

The Forest of Dreams project, a partnership between the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service and Merton Arts Development, was born out of consultation with Merton school children who expressed concerns about deforestation, logging, forest fires and the world- wide consequences of climatic change.

Community artist, Ali Pretty, has been commissioned to design and build the basic structures upon which Merton children will hang leaves, showing their wishes for a better world.

Supporting materials will be prepared for schools, to raise awareness of the Commonwealth and the vital issues facing its peoples. Education packs will encourage children to examine, discuss and research these issues, before composing a message for their leaves.

The trees will be officially launched during the summer term with artists and performers providing entertainment. At the end of the Games, the leaves will be collated into a tree shaped book that will be presented, by some of the children, to the Prime Minister.

Councillor Maxi Martin, Cabinet Member for Primary Education, said: ?This is a really exciting scheme and it?s wonderful that Merton?s schools are involved.

?The Forest of Dreams project will hopefully be very thought provoking as we see the wishes of children who hope to make the world a better place. After all, children are the future whose views should be listened to and this will be an excellent opportunity to hear what they have to say about the world we?ve created for them.?

Anyone who would like further information about this project or would like to contribute, should contact Rosemary Demin, Refugee Co-ordinator, Merton EMAS on 020 8640 7692.