The students of a Armagh school are a delight for art-loving residents and tourists visiting Belfast as part of the feelgood event of the summer.
Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail – which includes work by pupils from Saints & Scholars Integrated Nursery & Primary School – has seen a herd of ‘elephant-astic’ sculptures make a splash as they appear in iconic locations, monuments and open spaces across Belfast city center.
The free and family artistic course runs until August 31stand features over seventy uniquely decorated sculptures designed by artists, local schools and community groups.
Teacher Clare Hughes is the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) at Saints & Scholars Integrated Nursery and Primary School.
She said: “Our sculpture is called ‘Unity’ and was inspired by our motto that it takes a world of difference to create a different world.
“The story of Elmer the elephant lends itself to this motto. Elmer is different. Elmer is special. Elmer is unique. The theme is to celebrate our differences and our similarities, a theme that underpins everything we do in an integrated preschool and primary school.
“The whole school held an assembly celebrating 40 years of inclusive education, and then our special elephant was unveiled. Each class could choose a name. The school voted for UNITY. This theme is reflected in our design
“Every child and staff at our school literally stamped our own Elmer to celebrate, in a tangible way, our message of diversity, inclusion, kindness, compassion and friendship.
“On each leg there are 10 candles, so 40 candles in total to celebrate 40 years of Integrated Education. The candle flames were made by each P4-P7 child using their unique fingerprints. The 40 in numbers was created from the unique fingerprints of our P3 children.
“Our kindergarten kids added a blue fingerprint to the smile emoji that Unity leaves ‘behind’ wherever he/she goes with the slogan ‘We all smile in the same language’, which was written by the kids. fingerprints on Our World were painted by the P2 children, each P1 child in the school added their handprint, and their names are next to these.
“Unity’s ears, designed with the school’s motto on each ear, listen to the message we have for our school. The patchwork letters to tie with the Elmer theme, on the spine area, saying UNITY and were painted by the children attending The DEN (Developing Education Through Nurture) performance. The eyes, eyebrows and smile were also painted by these children.
“A total of 300 children, the total enrolled in our school, have left their unique mark on Unity, as a sign of our wonderful, integrated school community – hence the name we chose.
“At some point in our lives, we will all be touched by the work of a hospice and the incredible, compassionate work it does. If we can all contribute in some way, then we will. It’s our way, as a school community, to do it.
If you’re wondering how to keep your kids entertained over the summer holidays, you can head to Victoria Square Shopping Center in Belfast to see the ‘wee Elmer’ Saints & Scholars on the trail. You can also join the free events at Elmer’s headquarters in the CastleCourt shopping center, where kids can enjoy artist, storytelling and face-painting workshops.
Many sculptures pay homage to the history and spirit of the city of Belfast, from the linen industry to CS Lewis, Titanic and even a Game of Thrones design, with others addressing themes such as natural beauty from Northern Ireland, environmentalism, NHS, pride, fairy tales, folklore, Hospice, graffiti, diversity and inclusiveness.
Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail is organized by Northern Ireland Hospice in partnership with Wild in Art and Andersen Press. The trail benefits NI Hospice and is part of its celebrations to mark 21 years of care at Children’s Hospice, Horizon House.
Heather Weir, Chief Executive of Hospice Northern Ireland, said: “Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail is the biggest event Hospice NI has ever undertaken. It’s huge for Belfast locals and for those out of town too – it’s a ‘must do’ for residents and visitors alike and I’m sure it will delight anyone who sees it.
“As well as bringing communities and businesses together, the trail will help fund the specialist care our team provides for local babies, children and young people living with life-threatening or life-threatening illnesses.
“Elmer’s stories all promote positivity, compassion, inclusivity and caring; all values that closely align with NI Hospice. We are delighted that Elmer is helping us bring our important work to the attention of the local community.
It is estimated that around one million people will take part in Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail, which will provide a £10million boost to the local economy this summer.
For more on Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail, visit elmerbelfast.co.uk or download the free ElmerBelfast app from the App Store or Google Play.
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