Behaviour Change - the primary strategy in Wildlife Conservation - requires Awareness Building across all social structures – but particularly in the young where behaviour nurturing instils lifelong beliefs and values - and Awareness Building is most successful when emotional connections are forged through transformational experiences. Societal beliefs and values translate into Government Policy creating the formal legislative and regulatory framework – therefore ultimately informed by the values and beliefs of the current and future citizens (democratic electorate). Reinforcing such lifelong values in our young is critical in ensuring appropriate future decision making. 

Each year the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) produce the Red List which catalogues the categories and status of the world’s threatened species (flora and fauna); Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Conservation Dependent, Least Concern …..

Footprints expresses this authoritative and annually updated Red List in a tangible, educational and actively experiential way through the performing of a simple graphic art installation ceremony. These fun and engaging events bring attention, awareness and knowledge not only for the children participating – but also the rest of the school, students, staff, parents and local community – depending on where the installation is to be located.

Each ceremony comprises a short introductory presentation followed by a “footprinting” event in the playground (ideally on the ground – but could be on a wall or other surface) – carried out by the school children themselves - by stencilling a range of endangered species footprints onto the ground or wall surface.

The initial selection of stencils would represent a small range of species in each category from; Extinct to Conservation Dependent – each category colour coded from Black (Extinct) to Green (Conservation Dependent and Least Concern). Subsequent ceremonies/lessons would then allow the range of species represented to expand – but essentially subsequent ceremonies are intended to announce the ecological improvement/decline of each species – including the most emotional category; Extinction

If a species has moved positively or negatively – the representative stencil graphic is relocated within its new category zone and re-colour coded accordingly – repainted by the same child or new adopter. Obviously, a decline in a species status emphasises the reality of species vulnerability – but conversely an improvement is a reason for celebration – either emotion is potentially transformative.

Education packs, Apps and access to the IUCN website would provide further learning opportunities and deeper investigation. Each species/stencil can be allotted to a pupil/class by any method of selection – lottery, alphabetical order, self-choosing, etc. Each child stencils their adopted endangered species footprint and each ceremony elects a human from that community to have our own species represented by their painted footprints also.

We aim to schedule a series of initiating Footprints ceremonies at primary schools and youth clubs within the London Boroughs of Croydon, Ealing, Hackney and West Sussex - but ultimately installing artworks in all 21,000+ primary schools in the UK engaging the 500,000 primary school pupils in any given academic year.

A further extension of Footprints awareness building activities/events/installations - can be implemented at zoo/aquarium locations – or indeed in any other public environment. Furthermore - the inclusion of permanent Footprints can be part of any property development’s public realm art strategy in the form of paving slabs/wall tiles, etc. A development’s commitment and credentials can be highlighted with a ceremony and installation event similar to what takes place in the public realm outside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood – but where the familiar celebrity recognition is substituted by the plight of our endangered species.