Snakes alive! Spiders and reptiles invade Leamington park in celebration of children’s art

HISSING cockroaches, pythons and a foot-long lizard are to greet young artists in Jephson Gardens as a tropical celebration takes over the Leamington park.

Tarantulas, millipedes and other reptiles will also form part of an animal show for hundreds of children who have contributed to an arts and crafts exhibition soon to open at the park’s Temperate House.

The ‘City Safari’ will showcase 20 large-scale models of animals usually found in the tropics - including a chamelion, elephants and giraffes - created by pupils of the schools in the Swirls (Sydenham, Whitnash, Radford Semele and Leamington South) group of 14 schools.

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And to celebrate the achievement of the youngsters, Swirls - which is a registered charity - is holding a festive day for them, with themed dance sessions, face painting, a bouncy castle, a children’s entertainer, arts and crafts - and the animal show set up in a marquee for the day.

Vicki Rash of Swirls said: “We thought this was such a fantastic project that we wanted to make an event of it. It’s celebrating the children’s work. They have absolutely loved it.”

As soon as Swirls coordinator Steven Bolsover mentioned the idea of tropical animal models to the 14 schools’ headteachers, they all jumped at the chance to work together on the project, with some of the schools - many of which are currently teaching children about rainforests - loving it so much they ordered additional models to make.

Appropriately enough, Bishops Tachbrook Primary School chose to create a chamelion, which is the logo for Swirls to represent adaptability.

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Ms Rash said: “Teachers are really keen on pooling resources with teaching and learning.

“We always ask the headteachers what they want to do and what ties in with the curriculum. And the children really enjoy the Swirls activities and keep asking for more.”

She added: “It’s really good for the schools to be part of the cluster as all of this is at no cost to them. We arrange the events, transport and activities.”

The City Safari will be launched by Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White, as well as other civic dignitaries and representative from organisations that have provided funds to Swirls. The exhibition will be on at Temperate House throughout the summer.

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Other projects Swirls is working on include a community newspaper and radio. It also organises sports activities for children from across the cluster to take part in.

To find out more about the charity, go online: