School Focus: Clowne pupils let creative juices flow for bear trail in support of children with cancer and blood disorders
"We’ve always been a school that does a lot for charities, especially charities that are close to the students’ hearts and to the community as well.”
That is according to Frances Newton, Learning Resource Centre leader and Assistant House Leader at Heritage High School, which will see itself part of The Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail this summer to raise money for Sheffield’s The Children’s Hospital Charity.
The school, in Clowne, opted to paint their little bear in a vibrant blue colour – with the environmental-themed design being created by Year 8 student Daisy Atkinson and voted for by her peers during a competition.
It is among 100 other educational establishments which each pledged to raise a minimum of £750 for the charity in order to get their own bear, which they will get to keep as a permanent momento once the trail ends.
“We did the fundraising for the bear and the students really took a lead on that. We were able to get a non-uniform day but they also donated prizes so we were able to have raffles and things like that,” Ms Newton explained.
“One of the students, his grandma made us three bears – a nurse, doctor and a patient – and we raffled those off so that was a nice link to Sheffield Children’s.
“The idea was that the bear was meant to be on the trail last summer so we raised the money then but, due to Covid, it will go on the trail this year instead.”
It is not the first time the school has supported the Children’s Hospital Charity however, as it has also raised money towards the £2.75m appeal to transform the cancer and leukaemia ward by sponsoring festive snowflakes which are seen adorning the walls of Sheffield Children’s every Christmas.
The funds raised from the Bears of Sheffield trail will go towards this appeal as well as part of the aim to transform the ward, which treats children with cancer and blood disorders from babies through to 19-year olds from South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and as far south as Northampton.
Ms Newton said The Children’s Hospital was chosen by the student council as a ‘focus charity’ because of its particular importance to the school.
She said: “One thing that we do through our student council is students get to vote for the charities they would like to fundraise for and so anyone who has a charity that is particularly important to them gets to put it forward, then it is voted on by the wider student body.
“Our Bolsover Youth Council Group, which is a separate council made up of about six councils in the district that meet together, they also have a charity every year so two years ago they voted it to be Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“It was actually one of our students who had the deciding vote. We took it back to our school council and the students were really behind Sheffield Children’s as a charity that they all wanted to support because so many of them had their own experiences of being there either themselves or family members.”
She added: “Since raising money for the bear we’ve done the snowflake appeal again and have continued that fundraising for Sheffield Children’s Hospital because the feedback we get is that it’s a really important place for both the students and the staff as well.
“We got involved with the snowflake appeal originally because one of our students, Rachel, was in Sheffield Children’s Hospital and this year the snowflake was sadly after she passed so it was in her memory.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why the students were so keen to keep the fundraising going.”
Elsewhere at Heritage High, there is a real sense of community with an underlying theme of compassion and empathy for others, evident in both the school’s charity work but also in how the students interact with their peers.
“This is a school where everyone can find a place where they feel accepted for who they are and not judged,” Ms Newton said.
“Our students are really supportive of each other and really supportive of the causes that they’re passionate about.
“When we do the charity things it’s a chance to show it in sharp relief but it’s always there. Whether it’s a new student starting or someone who is struggling because they’re new, we always see students rallying round.
“Whenever there is a new person starting there are always so many volunteers to be the one to show them around, the only problem is too many people wanting to do it than not enough.
“It’s a really nice place to work because of how supportive the students are of each other and that atmospherecontinues right the way through.”
Visiting the Learning Resource Centre, or The Hive as it is better known, you can also see creativity is in abundance with colourfuldisplays and posters adorning the walls.
It is run by Ms Newton who describes it as a ‘safe space’ where students can work, read, and socialise.
“We just want it be an engaging environment which draws people into this idea of what books are and what books can bring to your life, so it’s not just the story it’s what happens after the story and the worlds that are created,” she added.
“With certain books like Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter, these worlds are so rich so I like to have these reminders around students of where these stories come from and where they can take you because it’s not just about the reading, it’s about what it does to your own creativity and your own way of thinking.”