Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pinwheels for Peace, and Advocacy

We all know that some people think that art education is frivolous.  A great way to counteract that attitude is to show them that your art program is more than a silly extra.  I think that Pinwheels for Peace is a perfect way to do that. Use art to show your and your students' social awareness!  
Never heard of  Pinwheels for Peace?  Let me tell you about it - Pinwheels for Peace is an annual art installation project that also incorporates literacy, developed by two art educators more than a decade ago.  The installations of individually created and decorated pinwheels take place on September 21st, in honor and celebration of the International Day of Peace.  The concept is non-political, but promotes the concept of peace.  On the  Pinwheels for Peace website, it says "It is our hope that through the Pinwheels for Peace project, we can make a public visual statement about our feelings about war/ peace/ tolerance/ cooperation/ harmony/ unity and, in some way, maybe, awaken the public and let them know what we are thinking."  I think this is an admirable goal. 

Since the International Day of Peace is just a few days away, it is probably too late for you to participate this year unless you've already started creating your pinwheels, but I hope you'll consider marking your  mark your calendar so that next year you can be prepared to join in.  The Pinwheels for Peace website has everything you need to get started - there's templates and instructions for building pinwheels, there's a press releases that you can use, and there's even lesson plans!  By the way, Pinwheels for Peace is on Facebook, too! 

Pinwheels can be easily created on paper, and assembled using sharpened pencils and straight pins, though there's lots of other ways to make them.  The pinwheel installation pictures in this post show pinwheels made with the pencil construction, and are from a school where I used to teach, and where I organized my students' participation in Pinwheels for Peace.  I wish I had saved some better pics to show you!
It was so easy and fulfilling to do.  I spent just one or two class periods with each class to design the pinwheels, and then organized an after-school afternoon with a group of volunteer moms (and one grandma) where we assembled the pinwheels in sort of an assembly line, with a lot of laughter.  Many classroom teachers helped out on installation day, by taking their students outside to "plant" their pinwheels on the sloping school lawn next to the well-traveled road, and discuss the meaning of the word 'peace'.  One year, the head custodian and I went outside early in the morning and spray-painted the word PEACE in giant letters on the grass (using the paint that was also used to mark the sports fields), and then classes installed their pinwheels along the paint lines.  The small local free newspaper (this is a rural community) came with a HUGE stepladder and did some overhead photos of the installation.  The school board and administration were pleased, the community was happy, and the kids had a positive experience.  All-in-all, a great experience, a wonderful event, and some terrific advocacy, too!

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