Australia’s oldest living Victoria Cross recipient, Keith Payne, is urging people and businesses in every community to buy and donate a uniformed Great War teddy bear to local primary schools to help kids better connect to the stories and lessons they will do in the final year of the 2014-2018 Centenary of Anzac.
Mr Payne, who turns 85 years this year, is championing a national Bears to School initiative that he says will give teachers the extra tools they need to talk with young children about our Great War history in a way that respects the age and learning needs of the students.
“There is much in war we cannot and should not share with our young, but there is more that we can and must share. Ours is a proud history of service and it is their understanding of our military heritage that will carry forward the best of who we are and can be,” Mr Payne said. “Helping our kids connect to this history is a legacy that I, and most all who have served, would be proud to leave in Anzac Centenary.”
“We have 10 beautiful teddy bear characters dressed in the uniforms of our diggers, sailors and nurses which, in the hands of our wonderful teachers, will get classrooms excited about learning.”
The Bears to School initiative is supported by the Returned and Services League of Australia, The National Servicemen’s Association and Soldier On. Funds raised from the sale of the Australia in the Great War bears will help these and other charities continue to support veterans and veteran families.
To purchase and donate a bear in people simply visit www.AnzacBears.com.au. The bear donor’s family name or business logo is included on a special story card that details the service or campaign the bear’s uniform represents and which accompanies the bear in classrooms and home visits. Donors also appear on the AnzacBears.com.au website.
“In some cases people will donate a bear because they believe in our history and are simply proud to be Australian. In some cases it will be because that history is a part of their family story. And in some cases it will be because they believe in our kids’ futures. Whatever the reason I hope that these stories will be shared in every community – because that community is what we wear a uniform to preserve.”
People buying a bear for donation at www.AnzacBears.com.au who enter the Unlock Code “EDUCATE” or the code provided by their local charity, go into the running to win one of eight complete sets of 10 Bears to School bears valued at almost $1,000 each.