See how Banksy responded when an elementary school named a building after him.

When the kids at this quiet elementary school in England were tasked with renaming their buildings, they never thought it would bring them international attention.

For the students of Bridge Farm Primary School, their mission was to rename several of the school's houses after notable people associated with the city of Bristol. The kids, ages 5 to 11, suggested names and voted for their favorites.


Named "houses" are an important part of the British school system. Yes, like in Harry Potter. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Among the winners were "Cabot," after John Cabot, the 15th century explorer; "Blackbeard," after the pirate; and "Banksy," after the infamous, as-yet-unidentified street artist who got his start in the Bristol underground art scene.

Banksy is one of the most well-known artists of our time. Sort of.

A legend of the street art movement, Banksy's iconic stencil work and provocative installations have appeared all over the world, sparking controversy, debate, discussion, and intrigue — not to mention millions of dollars at art auctions.

Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images.

Yet despite how recognizable his artwork is, little is known about the artist. He's managed to keep his identity secret all this time and simply pops up in the middle of the night, leaving deceptively simple, thought-provoking artwork in his wake — and never revealing where in the world he'll show up next.

So you can imagine how surprised these kids were to find a brand-new Banksy piece on the wall of their school building when they returned from holiday break.

That's right. Banksy had come to the school and painted a 14-foot mural to thank the kids.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

The painting is of a child rolling a hoop on a field containing a single flower — a reference to a Victorian-era game for schoolchildren. Only, as you can see, the hoop has been replaced with a burning tire. It's typical Banksy — dark and edgy, but also playful.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Banksy also left a note for the kids, thanking them and encouraging them to add to the mural if they "don't like it."

Although, frankly, there's a very small chance any of them won't like it.


“Dear Bridge Farm School,” Banksy's letter reads. “Thanks for your letter and naming a house after me. Please have a picture, and if you don’t like it, feel free to add stuff. I’m sure the teachers won’t mind. Remember, it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Much love, Banksy."


I have to say, it's pretty nice to see Banksy's sweet side.

After all, he's an elusive artist whose work is often dark, politically charged, and, by its very nature, illegal. That said, he remains an important and iconic voice in the art world.

But once, he was just a kid from Bristol.

Clearly, he hasn't forgotten that, so it's awesome to see him give back (in some small way) to that community — and encouraging kids to be creative in their own way is a message we can all get behind.

More
Courtesy of First Book

We take the ability to curl up with a good story for granted. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to books. For the 32 million American children growing up in low-income families, books are rare. In one low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C., there is approximately one book for every 800 children. But children need books in their lives in order to do well in school and in life. Half of students from low-income backgrounds start first grade up to two years behind other students. If a child is a poor reader at the end of first grade, there's a 90% chance they're going to be a poor reader at the end of fourth grade.

In order to help close the literacy gap, First Book launched Give a Million, a Giving Tuesday campaign to put one million new, high-quality books in the hands of children. Since 1992, the nonprofit has distributed over 185 million books and educational resources, a value of more than $1.5 billion. Many educators lack the basic educational necessities in their classrooms, and First Book helps provide these basic needs items.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
True
first-book

I was 10 when my uncle Doug took his own life. I remember my mom getting the phone call and watching her slump down the kitchen wall, hand over her mouth. I remember her having to tell my dad to come home from work so she could tell him that his beloved baby brother had hung himself.

Doug had lived with us for a while. He was kind, gentle, and funny. He was only 24 when he died.

My uncle was so young—too young—but not as young as some who end their lives. Youth suicide in the U.S. is on the rise, and the numbers—and ages—are staggering.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Pavel Verbovski

Forrest doesn't mind admitting he needed a second chance. The 49-year-old had, at one point, been a member of the Army; he'd been married and had a support network. But he'd also run into a multitude of health and legal problems. He'd been incarcerated. And once he was released, he didn't know where he would go or what he would do. He'd never felt so alone.

But then, some hope. While working with Seattle's VA to obtain a place to live and a job, Forrest heard about Mercy Magnuson Place, a new development from Mercy Housing Northwest that would offer affordable homes to individuals and families who, like Forrest, needed help in the city's grueling rental market.

Forrest remembers not wanting to even go see the building because he didn't want to get his hopes up, but a counselor persuaded him. And when he learned that the development was a repurposed former military barracks — now a historic landmark — he knew he'd feel right at home.

Today, Forrest couldn't be happier. "I've got a 10-foot-high ceiling," he says. "I've got 7-foot windows. I look out onto a garden." His studio apartment, he says, has more space than he knows what to do with. For someone who's spent chunks of his life not having a place to call his own, the three closets that Forrest's apartment boasts are a grand luxury.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
True
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Having a baby is like entering a fight club. The first rule of having a kid is don't talk about having a kid. New moms end up with weird marks on their bodies, but they don't talk about how they got there or why. They just smile as they tell other women motherhood is such a joy.

There are so many other things we don't talk about when it comes to pregnancy. Hearing about the veritable war zone your body turns into is enough to snap anyone out of the highest of baby fevers, which is why so many women probably keep the truth to themselves. But it's important to talk about the changes because it normalizes them. Here are some of the ways your body changes that your health textbook isn't going to cover.

Keep Reading Show less
popular