On 6th of June, 2011 a team from the University of Manchester went into Manchester Academy, Moss Side, to work with a group of 40 pupils in year 7 (11/12 year olds). Their teacher, Alexandra Demetrious, was very welcoming and was keen for us to work with the group. Dr Melanie Giles from the archaeology department told the pupils about the history of the park and brought in some artefacts to get them thinking about archaeology and the sort of items that can be found. The group were also shown plenty of old photographs, revealing how attractive the park used to look in Victorian and Edwardian times, complete with a boating lake, pavilion and bandstand.
Chris Searle, director of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, and a published poet, read aloud some children’s poems about parks and then encouraged the pupils to write their own, thinking about what parks mean to them today, both positive and negative. The resulting poems were fantastic, especially as many of the children had English as a second language and we were proud to show a selection of the poems at the Whitworth Park Open Day, Saturday 10th September.
Here are a few snippets:
‘The leaves rustle and the trees sway, As the children play on the soft green grass’
‘The teenagers, just like wolves hunting and destroying’
‘Flowers smell like honey’
‘Why are we them children that are scared to go in the park because they think that they will get shot?’
‘It was the breeze waking up the trees’