Ashington to the Future: Children At NCEA Schools Envision the Next Era of Their Hometown

Ashington to the Future: Children At NCEA Schools Envision the Next Era of Their Hometown

The town of Ashington has embarked on an inspiring new project titled ‘Ashington to the Future,’ inviting the young minds of the community to delve into the rich history of their hometown and imagine its future. This innovative project has brought together students from three local schools, archivists, animators and members of Ashington Veterans and Elders Institute (AVEI) to create a vision of Ashington that honours its past while looking ahead to a vibrant, sustainable future. The project was led by Jo March and Megan Wilson from Northumberland Archives and was supported with funding from the The Platten Family Fund at the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. 

The ‘Ashington to the Future’ project began with a series of educational workshops where children learned about the historical milestones that shaped Ashington, from its origins as a coal mining town to its evolution into a bustling community. Equipped with this knowledge, the students were then tasked with designing what they believe Ashington could look like in the future.

Working collaboratively, the children produced a series of drawings, models, and digital presentations that depict their futuristic vision for Ashington. These creative works highlight their innovative ideas for sustainable living, advanced transportation, green spaces, and community centres that foster social cohesion and cultural enrichment.

The children also completed various workshops using TinkerCAD to support the design of the Ashington they envisage for the future. Additionally, children visited the Farrell Centre at Newcastle University and learnt about the art of animation. Robin, the animator leading the workshops, then showed the children how to create their own animations using plasticine and.a special computer programme. Ryan, a student at Thomas Bewick C of E Primary School remarked, ‘I loved the animation workshop and it has given me inspiration for my future career. It was an amazing opportunity.’

One of the standout proposals includes a green energy park that utilises solar and wind power to provide clean energy for the town. Another group envisioned a state-of-the-art public transportation system that reduces carbon emissions and connects all parts of Ashington seamlessly. The children's designs also emphasise the importance of preserving historical landmarks while integrating modern architecture and technology.

"It has been a privilege to work with the children and teachers from the NCEA primary schools in Ashington," said Jo March, project coordinator and archivist from Northumberland Archives. "Seeing their ideas develop has been an inspiration to us; the children have such amazing imaginations! One of the most gratifying outcomes of the project has been that the children told us that they think more positively of their town than they did at the beginning of the project."

Year 5 children from NCEA Thomas Bewick C of E Primary School in Ashington had the opportunity to share their learning and present their future plans with members of the AVEI at the Institute.Town  Councillor Jeff Watson and Sue Shaw (NACT) joined the celebration too, to share in the event.

Earlier this year thirteen members of the AVEI had joined the three schools at Northumberland Archives (based at Woodhorn) to be interviewed about their lives in Ashington. The children were able to gain an invaluable insight into what life was like in Ashington in the past. 

When asked about the day, one of the Elders and Veterans said, “Their presentation was brilliant, it even had animation in it! The children donated a couple of school sweatshirts, a newsletter and other information for us to add to our Time Capsule, which is now ready for installing. They stayed for a buffet (where we cut the amazing cake they'd brought along) and a chat, had their photos taken and went away to start their half-term break with a goody bag each, as a thank you for their amazing achievements.We can't wait to work with them again!”

Mr Dinsley, Deputy Head at Thomas Bewick stated, “The project was an incredible experience for all of the pupils involved. To give our children the chance to visit 2 universities, as well as the chance to develop their ICT skills whilst learning about Ashington’s rich history is something that has been truly memorable. The celebration event at the AEVI was the best way to finish the project and has left our children with some long lasting memories.”

The ‘Ashington to the Future’ project serves as a testament to the power of community engagement and the importance of nurturing young minds. By reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future, the children of Ashington are helping to build a town that is not only respectful of its heritage but also forward-thinking and resilient.

Ashington to the Future Celebratory Cake / Children from NCEA Thomas Bewick C of E Primary School with members of the Ashington Veterans and Elders Institute (AVEI).

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