A delegation of teachers and pupils from Merton Schools have been invited to No. 10 Downing Street to present Mrs. Blair with a book detailing the Forest of Dreams Project, which took place in Merton last year as part of the Spirit of Friendship Festival. The festival organised by the Commonwealth Institute and timed to coincide with the both the Commonwealth Games and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The delegation, accompanied by MP, Roger Casale, will vist on 19th June.
The project was organized jointly by Merton LEA and Arts Development and ran for one month spanning June and July 2002. The festival was a celebration of diversity in Merton and aimed to involve schools and community groups in activities on the theme of international friendship and co-operation.
Thirty-three schools took part, with pupils making leaves, expressing their wishes for a better future, to be hung on three specially designed trees, which toured the borough throughout the month of celebration.
The project was conceived and co-ordinated by Merton Arts Officer, Iqbal Husain and Rosemary Demin, Refugee Co-ordinator, in consultation with pupils at Raynes Park High School. Artist Ali Pretty was commissioned to design the trees for what was essentially a curriculum development project, encouraging teachers in the lead up to the Festival to address issues affecting other parts of the world. The trees were themed ‘People and Places’, ‘The Environment’ and ‘Trade and industry’. There was also an opportunity to involve community groups and local artists to ensure that it was truly both a local and worldwide affair.
There is now a possibility that the theme ‘The Forest of Dreams’ will be taken up in Pakistan. A group of Pakistani teachers are currently in discussion with Iqbal Husain, Arts Officer at Merton, who said:
“We are in discussions with Ali Pretty to take the Forest of Dreams over to Pakistan. We hope that this work will create new opportunities for closer co-operation between Merton schools and schools in other parts o of the world from where many of our pupils originate. We are delighted that something that started as a project in the ‘Sprit of Friendship’ last year is now growing into an international affair.”
Rosemary Demin, Refugee Coordinator, 020 8288 5660