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Aberdeen special education school takes part in Light the North’s Little Lights programme

little lights
Orchard Brae School's pupils took part in Little Lights creative project, which is part of CLAN's Light the North

Pupils at an Aberdeen school have decorated a lighthouse for the Light The North sculpture trail.

Orchard Brae School was involved in the education initiative which was created to give young people across the north-east, Moray, Orkney and Shetland the opportunity to get creative and help their school or group design a little lighthouse to be featured on the trail.

Shining a light across the north of Scotland, Light the North will see 50 2.5-metre-tall lighthouses designed by UK artists set up and on display for 10 weeks from Monday, August 9.

Orchard Brae School’s art teacher Diane Jack said she really wanted the schoolchildren to take part in the project.

It is one of 76 schools and groups taking part in the education programme running alongside CLAN’s trail.

She said: “The Little Light project is a very nice thing to be involved in and it’s for a great cause.

“Our pupils have severe and complex needs – it ranges from complex autism to cerebral palsy and various other conditions which require the children to have a lot of extra support.”

Since Orchard Brae School, on Howes Road, champions inclusivity, Diane wanted to find a way to make sure all the school’s 121 pupils could take part in the creative project.

She said: “Because of the nature of our school and children, I wanted to make sure that every single child got to make a contribution.

“I did a bit of thinking and came up with a design that I thought could work.

“Every child painted a piece of paper – each class got a colour – and they painted that piece of paper with oil pastels and paint.

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Orchard Brae School has a strong ethos of inclusion

“I cut out the hearts and glued on the hearts onto the lighthouse and then it was varnished.

“It was very important to me that everyone had a chance to contribute to it.

“We have a strong ethos of inclusion – we try very hard to adapt everything so everyone can be included.”

Orchard Brae at Ashgrove, which is based within the Ashgrove Children’s Centre and is Orchard Brae School’s nursery facility, also took part in the Little Lights project.

Diane, who previously worked as a nursery teacher at the facility, said: “I sent materials to them and they sent back the children’s work, which we then had to quarantine.

“I think all the kids enjoyed being part of the project.”

Orchard Brae School’s little lighthouse will be shown at Aberdeen Science Centre later this year before being returned to the school once the trail is completed in October.

Diane said: “Our children are aged between three and 18 and I hope this is something they’ll all be able to do with their families or carers – to go see their own lighthouse or some other ones, too.”

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Fiona Fernie, CLAN’s head of income generation and business development

Fiona Fernie, CLAN’s head of income generation and business development, said the cancer support charity was “delighted” to offer schools and youth groups the opportunity to get involved.

She said: “Not only will they get to design and keep their own little lighthouse, but the Little Lights education programme also provides participating schools with a creative learning resource, which teaches them about the history of lighthouses, the region’s strong links to the sea, and cancer and mental wellbeing.

“Every school community is affected by cancer in some way and we want to support people to give them the tools to approach this difficult subject.

“Talking and learning about cancer is a clear way to help a school community remain a supportive, understanding and open environment for both staff and students.”

CLAN’s event partner, Wild in Art, is excited about the prospect of exhibiting young people’s artistic talent through their little lighthouses.

Charlie Langhorne, Wild in Art co-founder and managing director, said: “As well as raising funds for CLAN, Light the North also offers a simple way to encourage conversations about cancer, mental and physical wellbeing. All while making memories that can be cherished for years to come.

“The Education Programme provides schools and groups with a creative project that helps explore these topics and highlights the support that’s available.

“The little lighthouse sculptures give children and young people an opportunity to showcase their creativity on a high-profile sculpture trail and raise awareness of the issues that are important to them.”

CLAN supports everyone affected by cancer across north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney, and Shetland

At the end of this year’s trail, which will be present in each of the areas that CLAN Cancer Support operates, all lighthouse sculptures – excluding the ones created by schoolchildren – will be auctioned off to raise funds for the charity so that it can continue supporting people affected by cancer.

CLAN’s Light The North Farewell Weekend will take place from Friday, October 29 to Sunday, October 31 and the auction is planned for Monday, November 1.

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