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By Adrian Beltrame
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Mar 1st, 2019
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Our Red Chair Project began with a rickety old wooden chair found on the side of the road. It looked like it was destined to be hard rubbish, but little did we know the impact this chair would have at our school. The Year 5 teachers decided to introduce this project through a Thinking Routine. We asked our students, “What do you see / think / and wonder?” which resulted in some insightful questions: I wonder who was the previous owner? I wonder where it has come from? I wonder why is it here now?

As a class, we put on our art smocks and took turns painting the chair bright red. The students quickly realized that this chair would act as a reminder of the the 58 million children in the world who do not have an access to education. To understand the magnitude of this number, we asked our students to picture our city’s largest sports stadium, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, at full capacity (100,000 people), and then to multiply that number by 580. This was represented through a visual display of 580 MCGs to help give some context to our students.

Our chair then made its way around our school. First to other classes, then to other year levels, to school masses, sporting events and assemblies. Everywhere it went, the chair would act as a silent reminder of this world crisis and make children and adults stop and think.

Perhaps our most thrilling moment came on the most important day of our school calendar – St Ignatius Day, where the three campuses of our school come together as one to celebrate. On this day, the Red Chair sat at the front of the altar in front of over 2500 students and staff. Fr. John Tajon  the homilist and Tertian from the Philippines, who was to deliver the homily, was so moved by this, that he put aside his prepared Homily and spoke about poverty, education and the gratitude we should express. He was brought to tears! The mass celebration was emotional, reflective and above all, it was community. The community of God.[1] [2]

We have been honoured to be a part of the project and to deepen the ties we have through our Global Jesuit Network.

Some quotes from our Year 5’s:

“The Red Chair stands for the help and support for who needs it, just like a chair supports our bodies and we are comfortable.”

“It’s unjust that children do not have access to education because of war, natural disasters, child marriage, child labour and no teachers or schools. We do not need to go to work to help our parents.”

“Think about the kids in India that don’t have access to education. They would be extremely thankful to even be in a classroom. So join the Red Chair Project and love school.”

“…education is important so that humanity has a future, communities continue to develop and there can be success.”


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