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Children’s Parliament in Barra

On a Saturday in late Spring members of the Children’s Parliament are gathering at Barra’s famous seaside airport – where the east beach doubles as the runway.

As the plane departs the MCPs walk over to the west beach, and meet to plan a special day.

They have a special interest in the environment. Today they’ve invited friends and relations to help them clean up the beach.

Soon the MCPs and their helpers are spread all over the beach, and working hard.

This project is beneficial in several ways. Firstly, it makes the beach cleaner, safer, and more attractive. Secondly, the local council pays them for each bag of rubbish cleared off the beach. The Children’s Parliament costs money to run, the fees will help to cover these costs. Thirdly, each member is aiming for an award from the John Muir Trust, and their work here will help towards that goal.

It doesn’t take long to build up a pile of rubbish – including some unusual items you might not expect to find on a beach!

At midday it’s time for a picnic lunch. Then the group pose for photographs to record what they’ve done.

After that, all the rubbish has to be lifted off the beach. The MCPs and helpers form a human chain to get the job done quickly and effectively.

The afternoon activities are held indoors at Northbay Community Hall. The MCPs use a lot of creative arts activities to explore issues important to them. Here each member is working on an individual piece, which will later form part of a much bigger joint work.

Each MCP decorates a bird shape with small items that have special meaning for them, or which they have just collected on the beach.

The work is not yet finished. They will complete it when they have their final meeting of the year in Benbecula.

For now it’s time to go home. That’s not far for those who live on Barra, but the Uist members have a bus and ferry trip to complete before they’re home.

It’s been a long day, but the children and their families can reflect on time well spent, and look forward to meeting again soon to continue their good work.

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