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Published: 2014-11-06 00:00:00

This Saturday the Hamilton central business district will come alive with a spectacle of colour, creativity, music and dance with the first Our Place Our Future Children’s Parade.

About 500 children from 20 schools and early childhood centres around the Waikato region will take part in the event. Students from Waikato Enviroschools will be showcasing their walkable art in a parade that expresses what they feel is special about their place and their aspirations for the future.

Starting at 10am, the parade will be led out from the Ferrybank on Grantham St by the ‘Sambatrons’ and ‘Free Lunch’ stilt walkers. It will travel up Victoria Street and finish in Garden Place with a celebration at 11am involving a jam with the children, the ‘Sambatrons’ and Hamilton’s rock robots ’The Trons’.

The parade is the culmination of a year of learning that embodies the Enviroschools principles of empowering students to create sustainable communities.

To help prepare for the parade, teachers have explored their local place, with students asking big questions like “What do we know about our place and what makes it special, and what do we want for our future?”

To help them prepare for the parade, students took part in creative workshops with local artists in Paeroa, Taupo and Hamilton in term 3, exploring techniques for making spectacular parade art on a shoe string.

Tauwhare Primary School is bringing about 35 children to the parade.

“We have studied Tauwhare in the past and present,” says assistant principal Linda Cook.

“Our children see the future as a clean stream that has fish and places to swim. They also want a future where people are growing their own food, so they will be giving away edible plants to the crowd as they walk up Victoria Street. They have even created a banana propelled jet pack.”

Nawton School’s parade kaupapa is all about their school PRIDE values: Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Detachment and Excellence.

“Nawton students want these to drive their thinking and learning into the future,” says teacher Meika King.

“They have come up with a chant and have incorporated music by using old paint cans and buckets. They formed their ideas around one integral idea – we live, we learn, we walk with PRIDE.”

The idea for the parade came when Enviroschools facilitator Adrienne Grant saw the annual Children’s Parade in Brighton, England, in 2011.

“I was totally inspired and wanted to bring it back to the Waikato.”

The Brighton Children's Parade is the largest annual children's event in the UK and has been running for over 25 years. Each year thousands of school children, teachers and parents develop jaw-dropping costumes, giant puppets, dance and music routines and share their creations with their city.

“In the Waikato, the Enviroschools community of facilitators and teachers could see the potential benefits for students and the community, with everyone jumping on board to make this year’s event happen,” said Ms Grant.

The parade has been made possible with funding from Waikato Regional Council, The Enviroschools Foundation, Trust Waikato, D. V Bryant Trust, Blue Sky Community Trust, Creative Communities Hamilton, Taupo and Hauraki.

An exhibition of the Children’s Parade will be held at Waikato Museum from 17 December to 5 February.