PickerPal primary school liter pickers

School Litter Pickers Initiative

Primary school children in 12 schools in Meath, including Julianstown, are taking a stand against litter in their area, through a unique school based litter-picking programme called Picker Pals.

The programme, run by environmental NGO VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment) motivates and equips children with “Picker Packs” containing everything children need to go litter picking. At the end of the programme’s first year in operation, the 12 schools in Meath join 103 other schools from 9 different local authority in the Picker Pals programme.

Using upcycled and fully reusable packaging, Picker Pals provide each classroom with bespoke story and activity books, in both Irish and English, and litter pickers which are taken home by a different child every week. Each child goes on a litter-picking adventure in their local area with their family and reports back to their classmates on their activity.  The Picker Pals song helps spread the message about tackling litter in a fun and upbeat manner to motivate children to get involved in this important social and environmental issue. “It’s not just about learning about litter. It’s not just about becoming aware of litter. It’s about actually getting out there and picking up litter. Picker Pals gets children onto the first rung of the environmental ladder,” according to Patrick Jackson, Picker Pals Creator.

Since the start of the pandemic there has been a marked increase in the amount of litter in our towns and cities. A recent study showed a fewer than half of the towns in Ireland are deemed clean. “We are delighted to be on board with this innovative new project which encourages young students to take action on litter in their local environment. In our opinion anyone who sees the problem of litter at an early age will be part of the solution as they go about their lives,” Bernadine Carry, Environmental Awareness Officer with Meath County Council.

Litter-picking can provide many benefits outside of the immediate environmental ones. Angela Kenny, Picker Pals Project Manager says “Litter picking can have a really positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing, getting people out of the house, relieving stress and anxiety and giving a great sense of achievement and empowerment.

If you would like to get your school involved contact pickerpals@voiceireland.org. §

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