Pupils from schools across Chester and Ellesmere Port have taken part in an interesting initiative to promote awareness of the need for the conservation of the Great Apes.

Youngsters from Overleigh St Mary’s, Christleton, Barrow, Woodland and  Westminster primary schools took part in the pilot tour of the GAFI (Great Ape Film Initiative) Pedal Powered Cinema Schools Tour last week.

The Cheshire Schools Tour was led by Denis Agaba, chief project coordinator for the initiative in Uganda, who, along with GAFI volunteer Emma Tyrell, brought a Pedal Power cinema kit to each school and led an assembly showing a series of films powered by the pedalling of the students and teachers.

Community events were also held at Overleigh St. Marys CE Primary and the Ring O’Bells pub in Christleton.

 

Cheshire West Sustainability Officer Ashley Jones is now working alongside GAFI and Overleigh St. Marys Primary to initiate a twinning programme.

Overleigh teacher Nicky Bolton said: “This is just the start of a very exciting project. The children were captivated by the images on screen and are keen to help make a difference to the critical plight of the Great Apes. Each school will now be twinned with a school in Uganda, allowing the children to have a powerful insight into the lives of children in Uganda and their conservation work.”

The tour began at the Savoy Hotel in London with a host of celebrities including Sir David Attenborough, Ian Redmond, Virginia McKenna, Charlotte Uhlenbroek and Brian May.

The cinema, created by alternative energy pioneers ‘Electric Pedals’, is a portable set of equipment consisting of a DVD and projector running off electricity generated by a dynamo, which is powered by pedalling a standard bicycle.

Pedal Powered Cinemas can be taken to the heart of the remotest communities in Africa and South East Asia, to show local people films about the importance of conserving their local environment, in particular the habitats of the Great Apes.

Many of these communities have no idea that these endangered animals live in such close proximity to their homes and villages and have never seen a Great Ape before.

Madelaine Westwood, the GAFI project coordinator said that the impact of the films has been phenomenal.

She said: “In three weeks, over 12,000 people saw the films shown on the first Pedal-Powered Cinema. There is nothing I have ever seen to compare to the wonder in the eyes of tens of thousands of children as they watch the films.