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Local schoolchildren put on art exhibition at Bolton Wanderers Stadium

First published on: 24th May 2024

In September 2023, Canon Jill Pilling (CEO Archbishop Temple Multi Academy Trust), together with the Children Changing Places team, launched a group for children and young people to come together on a weekly basis. With 12 children from Archbishop Temple CE Primary schools (St James CE Primary, St Maxentius CE Primary and Bishop Bridgeman CE Primary) and four secondary pupils from Canon Slade School, the group launched and named themselves ‘Spirit Blazers’.

For their first project, the Spirit Blazers carried out a ‘Worship’ research project, interviewing adults and children from different church and school contexts. They presented their findings, which were received with much enthusiasm, to the Children Changing Places Project Board, the Diocesan Board of Education and Bolton Deanery Synod. The views of the children and young people have been carefully considered and the hope is that this will lead to significant changes in the way that worship is led, both in school and church.

The Shades Project, a Children Changing Places initiative, inspires the second Spirit Blazers project. ‘Shades’ is a racial justice and faith project which engages many children and young people around Bolton (as well as adults) in safe and positive conversations around race and celebrating diversity. The Spirit Blazers have worked hard within their school contexts, with their peers, to create portraits from fabric and a range of other materials. The portraits express the beauty of diversity and have facilitated many profound conversations about how we view and value others, especially those different to ourselves.

Over 300 portraits were created, to be displayed on the Bolton Wanderers pitch on Thursday 23rd May. Visitors were able to walk around the portraits, and the Spirit Blazers were on hand to engage them in conversations around racial diversity, sharing their own personal experiences of the project.

The portraits have also been used as a powerful focus for Collective Worship in the Archbishop Temple Primary schools. Children of all ages have walked around the portraits, discussing their responses with teachers and opening up many powerful conversations. It has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate God’s love for all of his people and his creativity in making us all so beautifully different.

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