On Tuesday November 20th, Paul Hutchinson from Virtual Shropshire and I made our way to the National Slate Museum in North Wales to cover Taking Over Day for Kids in Museums. This was the first time Wales participated in this event.
The National Slate Museum is very similar to Blists Hill in Ironbridge for those who have been there – it’s an open air museum that consist of working machinery and buildings to help bring to life the history of Welsh slate industry.
Did I mention the rain? It was pouring. A lot.
However, when we arrived, we were greeted with nothing but smiles from everyone. Rain was not going to damper this day. Museum Keeper Dafydd Roberts promised the rain would stop at lunch – boy did we all laugh at his optimistic attitude.
For TakingOver Day, a local school class came to ‘Take Over’ several parts of the museum. There were about 12 kids from a secondary school. One group took over Christmas tree decorating in the Victorian house, another group prepped and painted an engine and another group worked on getting an engine for a train sorted. These were all projects that curators and members of the museum have to do.
When we first met the group, they were quite shy … ok, a lot shy with very little confidence. I interviewed a few of them and could barely hear their voices, it was almost a whisper.
The staff at National Slate Museum were amazing – throughout the day they worked at a pace that the students were comfortable with but nudge them ever so gently to push them to try new things. Paul and I spent the day filming and trying to capture the transformation we were witnessing.
Mid-morning, Chief Executive Children Commissioner Eleri Thomas arrived. She jumped straight in and was soon involved with making Christmas Decorations and seeing what the lads have been up to with the train engine.
During lunch, these quiet, shy teens were excitingly talking about what each group has been doing. Their faces were dirty with soot and their feet muddy from the puddles, but their smiles … their smiles were proof of why TakeOver Day is so important. When they were talking, it was clear how much they have learned. They were not just repeating what they did – they were describing *why* their job was so important. They were explaining why it was important to Welsh history.
The pride was immeasurable.
At the end of the day, each pupil was presented with a certificate in the same room we started in. The air in the room went from damp and cold from the morning, to warm and confident in just a few hours.
And as promised by Dafydd Roberts, the rain stopped just in time.
Thank you so much to Julie and Shirley who helped Paul and I throughout the day.
I’ll upload the link to the video when it’s ready.