Bat and bird boxes are springing up as a collective of Salford youngsters do their bit to tackle global warming – in the spirit of Native Americans who settled in Salford in the 19th century.

The group is creating an oasis – a green, wildlife friendly space for the whole community and school at St Charles Church, Swinton.

Youth coordinator Charles Magee, a retired assistant head and art teacher, and former Art College director, said: “In 2021 Year 7 and 8 pupils (from a variety of High Schools) identified the climate crisis as the most pressing issue facing young people.”

The group also took inspiration from Pope Francis and his 2015 book ‘Laudato si’.


Image courtesy of Charles Magee

With an array of ways to help the environment, the next thing to do was figure out what to do with this green space.

He said: “Initially the group worked on the design of the garden and building bug friendly environments and building bat and bird boxes.”

In the first day, more than 50 boxes were built. Regardless of this however, there was still a lot left to do.

“The garden required a focal point. They [the children] decided that a figure or symbol of what the garden stood for would sign post the purpose and identity of the garden,” he said.

“They consulted with our local Parish Priest who suggested that a little known saint Native American Kateri Tekakwitha was an excellent role model for young people.

“Her story has a great deal to enlighten us about the environment and the important contribution diversity and integration has to say to our modern world.

“Remarkably we discovered that Salford has a grand tradition of supporting Native American peoples.”

In the winter of 1887-1888 around 100 Oglala Sioux native Americans settled in Salford on the banks of the river Irwell.

“Working through their summer holidays, the group researched and created highly impressive 3D models and drawings of their designs,” he said.

The group has been raising funds for this project which will include a six-foot woven willow figure sculpture by artist Cherry Chung. The proceeds will go towards materials for the sculpture and its installation. Magee says that Chung will “include the young people’s participation in the construction process through a series of master classes at her studio.

The whole community have got behind the project both in terms of fund raising and purchasing bat and bird boxes (Bob Boxes) for their gardens to support local wildlife.

Image courtesy of Charles Magee

In terms of the next step for the garden a number of ideas have been proposed including coffee mornings and gardening classes with an environmental slant. Visiting elderly or disabled members of the community to erect bird/bat boxes and advise them on being wildlife friendly.”

This project inspired by the Pope and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha will hopefully go on to inspire other people in Salford to be more environmentally friendly and see what they can do to help the environment.

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