An island not made out of island

Last week, Hamilton North Public School held its first environment day, organised by teacher Trudy Ramsay. It was a big day, with Jamie Burns and his volunteers from DPI Fisheries, Alicia from Newcastle City Council doing her “recycling relay” (that’s the Australian Alicia Martin, not the Spanish one) and Amanda Gregory from HCRCMA doing WaterWatch. As well as this, the parents did a stirling job making soup from produce grown in the school’s very own garden.

And there was me.

My brief was to talk about Styx Creek and what happens to the rubbish that goes in there. Styx Creek runs parallel to Jackson Street and so right next to the school; they were all surprisingly clued up about it. As part of my talk I thought I’d promote Tim Silverwood’s Take 3.

“How many people live in Australia?” I asked.

A pause, then a hand goes up from the littlest kindergartener: “A thousand?”

“It’s more than that, a lot more.”

Another hand: “Infinity?”

Ah, kindy kids.

The children had been doing work on the Pacific Gyre, with a poster competition on display in the playground. Discussing the gyre, one little girl said, in that tentative way of the littlest of the littlies:

“I saw a picture of a man walking on an island. But it wasn’t made out of island.”

Dramatic pause. Finally, I said, “What was it made out of?”

Even longer pause. “I don’t know.”

I think she did know, but stage fright can be a terrible thing, especially at age six. What she was talking about was this stuff by the TAFE. I could have walked around on it quite easily, I think.

Dave! Where’s your clean up crew? We need you AGAIN!

But it was a very successful day and a reminder of the boundless optimism, goodwill and faith of human spirit that’s inside all little kids. The Earth’s in good hands.

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