Allana Tobin of Kingston entered Berrinba East State School as a wide eyed and bushy tailed preppy ready to take on the world of education.
She is a bright and curious student whose love of learning has been well nurtured by her parents and teachers at the school.
Berrinba East State School has a unique classroom – one the students are excited to visit and one that has been awarded with multiple learning gongs.
It’s a place made up of trees and shrubs, where birds and native animals hang out with the students, where tyre swings and homemade jungle gyms and balance beams are used daily and where classes on the environment, science, math, and music are regularly held.
It’s simply called their forest and they care for it with all the passion and respect of lifelong environmentalists.
So, when building works started on the property next door to the school and land was cleared, Allana and her friends became quite distressed by the disruptions and loss of habitat for their native friends.
They thought their forest was also at risk of being torn apart and Allana said her heart was breaking at seeing all the trees go away.
With the support of her school, her mum Terese and her principal Steve Kanowski, Allana set about writing to elected representatives asking them to help save the school’s forest and replenish the ones that were torn down.
Division 2 Councillor Teresa Lane received correspondence from Allana asking for help to save the trees and funds to plant some more.
“Allana’s letter echoed the thoughts of lots of young people who have seen rapid growth in the city where once there were lots of trees and animals,” said Cr Lane.
“It’s pretty confusing for young children who feel things quite deeply but often don’t express it clearly.
“On receiving Allana’s letter we worked with the school and the developer who are putting in place a significant planting barrier on the boundary line. Council officers are also working with the school and hope to get some volunteers activated for a tree planting day for the school towards the end of term three,” Cr Lane said.
Allana also did a video raising the plight of her school’s forest and took her concerns to the Australian Institute of Play’s 2023 Childhood Summit where she became the youngest presenter at this year’s two-day program.
With the assistance of her principal, Allana spoke to educators, elected members, community, and not-for-profit leaders from a teepee on the stage.
She captivated the audience and laid out students concerns so adults would know how kids are feeling and demanded help sorting it out.