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Silkwood School’s ‘Gwongubunga – little river’ program, Kalindi Purtle, RIG News, June 2013

2014 January 3
by anthea

Award winning school environmental program

Silkwood Schools ‘Gwongubunga – little River’ program

 Do you want clean and healthy waterways; opportunities to connect to nature in meaningful ways and a future that holds great environmental abundance and security? Well, Silkwood School knows how to make this happen. They were recently recognised for their waterways health achievements when they became the extremely proud winners of not one, but two Healthy Waterways awards at the SE Qld ceremony in Brisbane on 31st May, at the Healthy Waterways Awards 2013. They received the award for Sustainable Education and also the Minister’s Grand Prize for the most innovative project in all categories!

Local Indigenous mentor to the Silkwood program with students tasting sugar bag honey...

Local Indigenous mentor to the Silkwood program with students tasting sugar bag honey…

Silkwood School is a small independent school at the back of Mt Nathan that is making a big name for itself when it comes to environmental education and wellbeing in nature. Silkwood School is part of Kombumerri country and the wider Yugambeh language region, which includes the Gold Coast, Scenic Rim and Logan regions.  We respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and their capacity and resilience as indigenous custodians.

Groups of students have found mentors and created workshops to teach other students and teachers about how to connect to their local waterways and environment through indigenous knowledge. The project was created with a purpose to educate and inspire others, using indigenous techniques to share knowledge and environmental awareness. With great enthusiasm and commitment, the girls have successfully educated many people, including students (both at Silkwood and from other schools), educators and even visiting environmental & indigenous experts.

Silkwood’s environmental indigenous workshops aim to show others that it is possible to connect to their local environment, no matter where they are, with a variety of learning techniques integrating local indigenous knowledge. Silkwood’s workshop consists of hands-on learning strategies such as intrapersonal development (message stones and sensory stories), kinaesthetic learning (sharing knowledge physically and allowing the participants to have a ‘real’ experience) and visual spatial learning (art in nature).

One of these workshops, ‘Gwongubunga – little River’, was presented to teachers & gardening experts at the ‘2013 Learning in the Garden – Growing Communities Conference’ in Brisbane.  Four students, Briody Fahey, Sophie Dye, Shamika Thomas-Pacnik and Kalila Purtle, facilitated the workshop for educators – kids teaching adults!  One of the adult participants was none other than Costa Georgiadis, of Gardening Australia.

Over the last few years Silkwood School has been actively improving the beautiful environment that surrounds their facilities. The habitats that have been created and maintained are planted out with native Australian flora.  7000 native plants have been planted over the past three years, including numerous bush tucker and indigenous technology plants. As the plants take off, they are attracting many endangered and threatened species, such as the Glossy Black cockatoo, the Richmond Birdwing butterfly and the Eastern Sedge frog. Local mentors have been brought on board, children create workshops to educate other students and adults, and local indigenous knowledge is respectfully integrated.

All of Silkwood’s hard work is not only providing amazing habitats and an accessible abundance of life to enjoy in outdoor ‘learn-scapes’, but is also giving their lucky students & school visitors authentic, hands-on learning experiences in nature, providing many distinctive resources and learning connections to engage with along the way.

If you have a look at the link below – you’ll get a snapshot of our beautiful place – this professionally filmed 4 min film was directed by a group of senior primary students also featured in the film.  It’s in HD, so let it download first.

Spirit of Silkwood  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSozS_AqOAo&feature=plcp

This 4 minute film highlights the natural learning features of Silkwood School, where learning is an adventure in itself.  Two flowing creeks, native bushland and habitats, abundant birdlife and native creatures make our school surrounds their home.  This film will take you on a journey through our interpretive bush trail, so you can see Silkwood’s beauty for yourself.

We love to learn and explore in our natural learnscapes and we are focused on building connections to our local environment through indigenous knowledge.

At Silkwood, kids teach kids how to connect with their environment. We’ve done our research, found community mentors and created workshops to run for other kids; even from other schools!

At Silkwood, we connect to our unique environment everyday and do our bit to live clean and green.

What is the spirit of Silkwood? Be inspiring, get connected, make a difference!

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