AN idea born in a Coventry primary school has gone global after being adopted by the acclaimed UK theatre company behind The Walk, one of the most ambitious live artworks ever.
Little Amal, a 3.5-metre-tall giant puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl – made by War Horse creators Handspring Puppet Company – is at the heart of The Walk.
She has been on an epic 8,000km trek in a moving artistic response to the stories of displaced children around the world.
After travelling across Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium, Little Amal is now in Britain.
She will be walking from Coventry Transport Museum to University Square in Coventry during half term on Wednesday, October 27 at 3pm.
Two teachers at Earlsdon Primary School came up with the idea of welcoming Little Amal to the city with Footprints of Welcome – a montage of paper footprints designed and decorated by children from across all year groups with personal messages of welcome and artwork.
They include drawings of city landmarks they felt Amal would like to see and messages of welcome in different languages spoken at home.
President Kennedy School, an outstanding co-educational secondary and sixth form, in Coventry has also picked up on the project.
Good Chance Theatre, whose critically-acclaimed production The Jungle inspired The Walk, were so impressed when they heard about Footprints of Welcome from Coventry City of Culture Trust’s Education and Young People programme, they have asked to endorse and feature it online so it can be shared with other schools across the UK and globally.
A film about Footprints of Welcome, featuring 15 Year 6 pupils at Earlsdon Primary, as well as support materials including footprint templates and instructions have been created by the Trust. These are set to be published on Good Chance Theatre’s website.
Year 6 teacher Michelle Andrews, one of the teachers behind the project, said: “Footprints of Welcome came from a desire to try and encourage the children’s empathetic responses, through emotion, art and language to the refugee situation.
“We wanted to be involved with the City of Culture in welcoming Amal to our city, which is well-known for acceptance and diversity and do something special.
“By the time she arrives in Coventry Little Amal will have walked 10 million steps from Syria.
“We started to think about things the children could say or write to Amal to make her feel welcome. In Refugee Week we arranged for a talk through Amnesty International from a refugee on zoom.
“There are 24 different languages spoken within our school and so some of the children chose to write messages in the languages spoken at home; others wanted to write in Spanish, which we have been learning as a school.
“It’s really exciting how something simple has grown into something powerful. We are really pleased and proud to be part of Good Chance Theatre’s project.”
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