The crew from Kites 4 Kids will often begin flying kites in an empty park; it doesn’t stay empty for long.
‘We put up a few of our colorful creations and before long people are coming from everywhere to see what it is and get up close to it,’ says Kites 4 Kids founder Jo Baker.
‘People driving past stop and take time out to see something they have often never seen before.
‘In today’s world life is so busy, and if we can make someone stop, even for five minutes and enjoy something so simple as a kite flying, we have done our job. We’ve introduced someone to something that has been around for thousands of years.’
Jo and the crew from Kites 4 Kids and their Flying Poetry program will be one of the Arts Learning Festival’s highlights at Birrarung Marr, near Federation Square. They will hold student and teacher kite making workshops on Thursday 4 May and Friday 5 May, and sessions for everyone on Saturday 6 May and Sunday 7 May.
They will also have some big kites in the skies over Birrarung Marr (weather permitting, of course). Think dragons, tigers, cats and dogs.
The program name Flying Poetry comes from the tradition of many cultures to fly kites to send messages to the gods, explains Jo. In India and Bali, they are used to ask for plentiful harvests.
At the Birrarung Marr workshops, students will able to attach artwork and inspirations onto kites and send them skywards.
‘Kite flying is a great way of expressing yourself,’ says Jo. ‘Designing a kite or even just the graphics on a kite is a way of putting your art in the sky for everyone to see and enjoy. The sky is a blank canvas. You can fill it with so much color and fun.’
Jo first came into contact with kites 30 years ago, when her husband Ricky purchased a small stunt kite when they were on holidays in Queensland.
They were hooked, and have since travelled to kite flying festivals around the world. For the last 20 years, Jo’s been running education programs in schools.
The right kite, she says, is not hard to fly. ‘All you are doing is holding the string and letting the wind do the work.
‘It’s a bit like walking a dog. Some dogs will walk nicely beside you, others will pull and tug at the lead trying to go faster.’
Life doesn’t need to be complicated, says Jo. ‘The simple act of flying a small kite – enjoying the wind, the sun, the fresh air – gives you peace. It makes you feel at one with the amazing land we live in, and makes you feel just grateful for being alive.’
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