The "Crane - Bird of Peace" International Children's Art Contest
[Note: We noticed, some weeks ago, that Nepal included in its report of World Wetlands Day activities the following note: "the Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness, the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary, and IUCN Nepal is conducting an art competition, with the participation of the International Crane Foundation (USA), on 'The crane: the bird of peace' in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha". At the time we didn't know to what this referred, but at the Beidahe seminar in China last week the Bureau's Regional Coordinator, Rebecca D'Cruz, was able to obtain the following background paper, written by Igor Sakovich, on the history and internationalization of this valuable initiative. A brief leaflet outlining the terms of the contest is also available, and there is a brief prospectus at the bottom of this document. The logo above was scanned from the leaflet. -- Web Editor.]
"CRANE, THE BIRD OF PEACE"
An international contest of children's creative activity
(Environmental Education Center "Amur-batyushka" of the Amur Branch of the Social-Ecological Union)
The Amur Region is one of the places of the crane country. Seven out of fifteen crane species hatch their young in Russia. Six of them can be met in the Amur Region. The breeding grounds of more than half of the Red Crown, and not less than one third of the White Naped and Hooded Crane populations which nest in Russia, are found within this area. Unfortunately, the level of environmental knowledge of the local population about wetlands and their inhabitants is highly inadequate.
This is the reason why representatives of the Amur Branch of the SEU, the Amur Regional Children's Library, and the Khingan State Nature Reserve address all of the people of the Amur Region, both adults and children: "Do you know that the crane is a symbol of peace and happiness for many different peoples of our planet?" These magnificent and graceful birds have attracted the attention of men in the earliest times, have stirred up his imagination and inspired him to write verses, songs, tales and to draw beautiful pictures. However, despite all the lofty emotions that cranes arouse in men, people are the only enemies of cranes on Earth! Due to unwise and irresponsible actions of men, half of the crane species are now included in the national lists of the endangered animals or the Red Book of the International Union for Nature Protection. It is mankind who is to blame that these birds are on the verge of extinction, though no other beings than men themselves can change this dramatic situation to a better one.
The birth of the contest
In the Amur Region there are breeding grounds of the Red Crown, White-naped, Hooded and Common cranes. The Siberian and Demoiselle Cranes stop in its wetlands on their migration route to the wintering places. That is why the survival of these noble and majestic birds is in many respects dependent on the people living in the Amur Region.
It is evident that any problem can be solved more easily by people sharing the same ideas. And the survival of the crane may be more likely when not only a small team of specialists is working for it, but the wide public of the Amur Region feels sympathy for the "bird of peace" and has better a knowledge about cranes and their habits. It is no easy task, however, to help wild birds to survive. Adults, usually engaged in their everyday routine, experience difficulties in making a step towards being actively involved in such a noble mission. That is quite different with children! At best, they can have assistance from their parents. Therefore, for the first move, a contest of children's creative activity is a suitable and attractive event.
Essays, leaflets and articles were received from seven cities and fifteen districts of the Amur Region. They were really miraculous, these literary exercises, drawings, appliques, sculptures and mosaic panels. These little pieces of art embodied an immense ocean of fantasy, taste, ingenuity and they were so numerous that it was diffucult to decide on the winners. The adjudicators had to look through more than 1500 works of more than 500 participants from the age of 5 to 17.
It is good that the results and ideas of the contest attracted attention of schoolteachers, professional artists, journalists and writers. They gave assistance to the adjudicators with competent judgements on the children's works. It was not only children who took an interest in participating in the contest. Ten families also responded to the call of the organizers and took part, showing delightful results of their cooperation. One of the contest participants, made up by the three generations of the Kalinin family of Blagoveshchensk, sent in some water-color paintings, knitware with crane silhouettes, wooden crane sculptures as well as tales and verses composed by the members of the family. By sending an appeal, they also approached the people of Izumi, the city on those Japanese islands where the cranes which nest in the Muraviovka Nature Park and Khingan State Reserve spend their winters.
The best projects for environmental protection and letters of address to adults were published in the regional and district newspapers. An exhibition of crane portraits was held at the Amur Museum of Natural History and Local Lore at the very end of the school term. Soon, another collection of crane portraits arrived in Blagoveshchensk. Just after its arrival the next exhibition, a show of photographs: "The cranes of Izumi, our cranes", was opened when the delegation of the Wild Bird Society of Japan came. Mr. Hiroshi Tawa, the first secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Russia, visited Blagoveshchensk to open this exhibition. The regional contest of children's creative activity "Crane, the bird of peace" was harmoniously supplemented by the meetings of local people with the enthusiasts of the crane survival movement in the USA and Japan. Both exhibitions made a tour of many cities and villages in the Amur Region and enjoyed hearty welcome everywhere.
A festival, held just before the International Day of Environment Protection, was the special final stage of the contest. During this festival the contest winners met with its organizers and sponsors in the Amur Regional Children's Library. One of the honorary guests, a veteran of the World War II, addressed the audience: "You have started a very important job. You look like a small crane flock, which has made a move towards the protection of Nature, and that also means that you support peace in the world. Other children will learn about your creative activity and they would like to experience what you have experienced, and your movement will be growing stronger."
The festival was filled with joy and fervor and there was a special atmosphere of kindness. The show of young talents was the brightest event. Tale-tellers and poets read their stories and verses, young artists showed and told about their masterpieces, and young composers played their musical pieces. A number of musical pieces dedicated to cranes were composed especially for the contest. In this performance young singers sang old folk songs about cranes, dancers staged specific crane dances. There were also performances of the ancient Russian ceremonies of meeting of cranes in spnng.
Meeting with Cranes
Fifty children and families became winners in the contest, and two groups of the luckiest got the highest prize: a free tour to the Khingan State Nature Reserve to meet the cranes. This was a opportune idea since most participants, being enchanted with the image of this bird, had never seen it in nature, and were eager to meet a crane in its home. Now this meeting became possible. In the Khingan State Nature Reserve one of the teams of the contest winners happened to meet with a group of the Japanese crane enthusiasts from the city of Izumi, while the second team encountered the group of school teachers from the state of Wisconsin, USA, also a famous place in the crane country. When the time came to say good-bye to the cranes of the reserve, the children-visitors were reluctant to part with the beautiful birds.
Final or continuation?
We hope that the regional contest "Crane, the bird of peace" will grow into an international event with the participation of children from China, Korea, Mongolia, Russia, the USA, Canada and Japan. Nevertheless, on June 5, 1996 an international exhibition of children's creative activity will open in Blagoveshchensk. In a while, the exhibition carrying the same name, "Crane, the bird of peace", will travel to other cities in Russia and abroad. The authors of the best the works will have a chance to visit nesting and wintering grounds of the crane. A colored book of the best art works will be a substantial contribution to the crane country protection and in providing prosperity to the crane folk.
To make this true, the children from the banks of the Amur address the children and grown-ups in other countries:
To all people in America, North and South Korea, China, Mongolia and Japan !!!
We are participants of the contest of children's creative activity "Crane, the bird of peace" from the Amur Region, Russia. We are young people from 5 to 17 of age. We became fond of cranes and found out a lot about their nature and behavior, their dances and devotion to their partners. There are no frontiers for the cranes from the Amur River basin. They nest in Russia, China and Mongolia, but they spend winter in China, Korea and Japan. Cranes make us a unity which is called - the people of the Earth. We can save cranes on our planet only by working together and we should treat all living creatures with a great care! We invite you to take part in the international contest of children's creative activity "Crane, the bird of peace" and let it be the beginning of our cooperation for the benefit of the mankind and its future! May 28, 1995 Blagoveshchensk, Russia
The contest became international
In 1996 the "Amur-Batyushka" Center of Ecological Education of the Social-Ecological Union's Amur Division, in cooperation with the Amur Regional Children's Library, the Khingan State Reserve, the Administrations of the Amur Region and the city of Blagoveshchensk, "The Amur" Programme of the Social-Ecological Union, the International Crane Foundation (USA), the Government of the Ch'ungch'ongnam-do Province (Republic of Korea), the Government of the Heilongjiang Province of China, and the Mayor of the city of Kushiro (Japan), organized the Children's Art Contest "Crane, the Bird of Peace".
More than seven thousand children in age from 5 to 18 in China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA took part in the contest. The contest winners were welcomed at the Festival of Cranes in the Amur Region, many of them made a trip down the Amur River along the crane breeding places. In Russia about 20 thousand people visited the travelling exhibition of the contest winners. In October 1996 this exhibition starts its route within the USA and in the Republic of Korea. The preparation of the publication of the illustrated volume of the contest participants' collected works is now under way.
Contest and festival participants as well as visitors of the exhibition demonstrated appreciation of the exhibited works, expressed intentions to participate in the similar activities and put forward ideas how to widen the scope of themes for the next contest. Such a response convinced us that it is necessary to continue international contests of children's creative activity.
INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S ART CONTEST 1997
"THE CRANE - BIRD OF PEACE: MIGRATORY BIRDS, CONNECTING PEOPLES AND COUNTRIES"
- To attract attention of the people in eastern Asia and the USA to the situation of the migratory birds.
- To awaken in children interest in the problems of survival of the migratory birds, to involve them in the activities aimed at conservation of the birds, connecting peoples and countries.
- To demonstrate the anxiety of children at the situation of the migratory birds to the people in the eastern Asia and the USA.
- To contribute to people's diplomacy by means of contacts between the contest participants.
SCHEDULE OF THE CONTEST:
- Distribution of information about the contest and about migratory birds in the respective participating countries (November 1996).
- Receiving of contest works (January-February 1997).
- Summing up the results of the contest, awarding procedures, mailing of the winning works to Blagoveshchensk (March 1997).
- Preparation of the summary exhibition of the winning works (April 1997).
- Opening of the exhibition in Blagoveshchensk (May 15,1997).
- Camping and trips for the winners in the Amur Region (June 1997).
- Intinerant exhibition of the winning works in the participating countries (August-December 1997).
- Children of the age between 7 and 17 from the Chinese People's Republic, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Far East of Russia and the USA are invited to participate in the contest.
- Each participating country distributes information about the contest independently, forms its own jury, selects and awards winners.
- Graphic, handicraft and literary (only in Russian) works are accepted. No limitations on work techniques. A short letter to other participants or to the exhibition visitors in Russian or English is favoured.
- Each work should contain the following information on the reverse side in English in block letters:
- full name of the author and his (her) age;
- name or slogan of the work;
- techniques used;
- full postal address. In case of collective works, please, give the full postal address of the collective and the name of the leader.
Dear Friends! We invite you to take part in the International Children's Art Contest "The Crane - Bird of Peace: Migratory Birds, Connecting Peoples and Countries".