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“I am a bird” delivers heartfelt message of hope from 600 Milliken Mills High School students.

 

For immediate release

Toronto, June 1, 2020

 

View full gallery at: mmhsbirds.com

 

Schools, worksites, restaurants, parades, and celebrations were cancelled, but students and teachers from Milliken Mills High School in Markham were undaunted. They were determined to deliver a powerful conservation message on behalf of birds.  Working remotely, the students created more than 300 poems, songs, pictures, paintings and videos to inspire us all. Their work is one of the most hopeful stories happening in Ontario.

 

“Being mindful is key to our coexistence on Earth, the only planet that we both have,” is one of the messages delivered in the engaging video, I am a Bird presented by Milliken Mills High School with Birds Canada and Shadowland Theatre. This multi-faceted project was created by the students with Birds Canada, Shadowland Theatre, and an Indigenous knowledge-keeper. It combines art and science to provide a “birds-eye view” to help us better understand and be more aware of the world around us.

 

The seeds of this collaboration were sown in 2019, when Andrés Jiménez, Birds Canada’s Urban Program Coordinator first worked with Shadowland artists to connect communities to birds through art. Andrés later joined forces with Chris Williams, Head of Alternative Education at Milliken Mills High School and the student eco-group Green Inc., and – with support from Ontario Arts Council and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation – the Earth Day Bird Celebration was born.

 

Thanks to the support of the Ontario Arts Council and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation the original project was to create the Milliken Mills Earth Day Bird Celebration for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April. A full day of bird-friendly activities, culminating in a large parade showcasing the students’ work. The students began planning the project with Birds Canada and Shadowland Theatre in November, 2019.

 

Covid-19 hit mid-project and schools closed, but as Birds Canada’s Urban Program Coordinator, Andrés Jimenéz said, “this allowed for magic to happen!” Students were invited to submit their work online in a range of artistic forms imagining life from a birds-eye view. They responded with an overwhelming and incredible array of artwork, poems, photos, music and audio works showcasing their feelings of being a bird and facing the threats of human activity.

 

I Am A Bird…. is a culminating video performance of their work. #BuildtheFlock asked the students to commit to a bird positive activity – 400 of them responded. The MMHS Bird Celebration website is now online to reach thousands of other young people with a heartfelt plea to protect Ontario’s birdlife for future generations to enjoy.

 

The “I am a Bird” video production will premiere with a live panel for the closure of the Toronto Bird Celebration in early June.

 

Listen to three little birds played by the MMHS students from their homes: Three Little Birds

 

Media Contacts:

Sequoia Erickson, Shadowland Theatre General Manager – info@shadowlandtheatre.ca

Andrés Jiménez, Birds Canada – ajimenez@birdscanada.org (Cel: 6475153373)

Chris Williams, Milliken Mills High School – christopher.williams@yrdsb.ca

 

About the Partners:

Milliken Mills High School conducts an annual Earth Day event to promote environmental awareness and create meaningful and engaging, nature stewardship activities for students. Led by teachers Christopher Williams, (Head of Alternative Education) and art teacher Kathleen Middleton, they wanted to make 2020 Earth Day’s 50th anniversary year, particularly significant.

 

Birds Canada is Canada’s leading charitable organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats, for the benefit of birds and humans alike. Their programs imagine and promote bird-friendly cities, and bird-friendly schools.  They coordinate thousands of volunteers to monitor bird populations, use sound science with on-the- ground conservation actions, and engage communities to cultivate nature-caring people.

 

Shadowland Theatre has long integrated nature and art through community workshops and outdoor performances in parks and public spaces. Parades and site-specific works celebrate the natural world with spectacular images such as giant puppets, stilt-walkers and music.

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