BRINGING communities together to care about their surroundings is at the heart of our Streets Ahead campaign.

Glasgow-based theatre company Eco Drama has the same idea.

The groundbreaking group has had a huge impact in neighbourhoods all over the city through its inventive use of storytelling and performance to encourage families to learn about nature.

As we launch our search for the Streets Ahead stars of 2019, we caught up with the company, which has worked with thousands of children over the last 12 years.

Travelling all over Scotland in The Magic Van, a vehicle run on renewable bio diesel, the team helps communities understand the need to live in environmentally sustainable ways – a message which is also at the heart of Streets Ahead.

Founder and director Emily Reid said winning a Streets Ahead award had been a huge boost for the company.

“We were really honoured to be recognised for our work,” she says. “It’s a great campaign which raises awareness about local people and projects that are making a real difference in our city and I’d really urge people to get involved.”

The company’s latest show is The Whirlybird, an ‘ugly-duckling-style’ tale of inspiration in nature and the wonder of flight.

Directed and co-devised by Eco Drama founder Emily Reid, the show is performed by Caroline Mathison and Beth Kovarik, with music by Greg Sinclair and set design by Claire Halleran.

“I’ve had the idea in my head for many years, inspired by my love of the little sycamore seeds which ‘helicopter’ to the ground in the autumn,” smiles Emily.

“It’s aimed at children aged between three and seven, who are beginning to be excited about the world around them and who love exploring nature.

“It’s also a play about celebrating difference - not everyone learns to fly in the same way and the message is that it’s our differences which make us unique.”

Children from Buchlyvie Nursery in Easterhouse have been involved in the show’s early stages of development, taking part in sessions that encouraged them to engage with nature on their doorsteps.

The nursery also took part in Eco Drama’s creative learning project, Out to Play.

Child development officer Sharon Macfarlane said: “The children had a great time, getting to use their imaginations and creativity to explore nature. It taught them a lot about caring for and having empathy for their environment.”

Emily adds: “Lots of children in the areas we work with don’t have their own gardens. Getting the chance to play outdoors and experience nature is at the heart of the project, and if we can inspire more nursery leaders to do that, then that’s fantastic.

“There has been a huge leap forward in recent years by schools and nurseries keen to put more outdoor learning on their agenda.”

She adds: “It has a huge knock on benefit too, for communities. The aim is to engage children who then go home and ask their parents to go out and spot whirlybirds; it’s about sparking their imaginations, encouraging them to think creatively about nature and caring for their environment.”

The Whirlybird is touring around Scotland and visits Platform in Glasgow on April 16.

There are many more great groups like Eco Drama out there – we want to hear about them. Our annual celebration, the Streets Ahead Awards, run in conjunction with our partners, Glasgow City Council, City Charitable Trust and City Building, is open for nominations now until the closing date of April 26.

To nominate, visit the dedicated awards website at

For more information please email or call 0141 302 6019.

We will be awarding eight prizes, including an overall winner, to be announced at a special ceremony on June 18.

There will be trophies for the best garden, best clean-up campaign, best environmental initiative, best community garden, best community initiative and best business initiative, plus a schools award.