Collecting smiles

Action: Taree Public student Zoe Otm gets some sound advice from filmmaker Greg Smith under the watchful eye of principal Peter Johnson and teacher Joshua Mawby.
Action: Taree Public student Zoe Otm gets some sound advice from filmmaker Greg Smith under the watchful eye of principal Peter Johnson and teacher Joshua Mawby.

COLLECTORS of a different kind greeted shoppers emerging from Taree City Centre late last week.

Instead of being confronted with charity workers asking for donations, people were greeted with students from Taree Public School offering free flowers and collecting “smiles” in return.

The students were accompanied by Forster filmmakers Greg Smith and Leah New and under the watchful eye of their principal, teacher and parents.

It was all in aid of a pilot program, the first of its kind in Australia, aptly named “TAREE – The Aboriginal Resource for Engagement and Education”.

With the aim of engaging with the community and producing positive outcomes, the program involves the students (from year 5 and 6) presenting strangers with a flower and capturing their reactions on camera.

These will all be edited into a high quality short film called “Collecting Smiles” which will then be screened at a special presentation at the end of term with special guests from the Education Department, parents, staff and the school community.

Taree Public year 5/6 teacher, Joshua Mawby said the film would also be uploaded to YouTube and other social media so the children could see it themselves and share it with family and friends.

All the flowers given away last Thursday were picked and donated by Uniting Church members, coordinated by Narelle Penman.

Parishioners even removed all the thorns from the roses to make sure only smiles and not winces were recorded.

All the students involved had a job to do on the day: either presenting the flowers, helping with filming and sound or collecting signatures for release forms from those who were filmed.