‘Dee Pupils Pitch in for Coastline Clean-up’
Donaghadee’s four schools – Ballyvester Primary School, Donaghadee Primary School, Killard School and St Anne’s Primary School – have partnered with the local Community Development Association and Ards and North Down Borough Council to launch a Marine Litter Project.
Denis Waterworth, Vice-Chairman of the Association, explained “Working closely with the four schools, the Council and Councillor Janice MacArthur, the Association made a successful bid for a grant from Live Here Love Here. Each school has been allocated an area of coastline in Donaghadee and an attractive litter picking station will be installed at each. On each visit to the beach, pupils will gather and analyse litter according to type, size and weight. They will also collect water samples for analysis using water testing kits and digital microscopes. Their findings will be recorded and compared over time against previous analyses and the records of the other schools. It is hoped that the project will run for several years.” The project is however not confined to schools. He continued “We want the community to play their part as well. The stations have a receptacle for litter pickers and bags and we want members of the community to take these and tidy up any material they see. There will be a bin located at the station so when returning the litter picker it’s a simple task to drop the compostable bag into the bin”
Local Councillor Janice MacArthur who is a retired Primary School Principal played a key role in developing the project. Clearly delighted at seeing the project come to fruition she said “This is a great opportunity not only to keep our coastline clean but also for the pupils to benefit educationally. Practical outdoor activities, are such a key aspect of the Northern Ireland Curriculum but sometimes these activities are not possible due to limited school funds. However, Live Here Love Here funding has made it possible for our four schools in Donaghadee to work together collaboratively to plan an outdoor learning project with a strong environmental focus. As an educationalist and chair of the Council’s Environment Committee, I am in no doubt that this hands-on learning experience will encourage our local children to be lifelong stewards of our wonderful beaches. It’s also vital that the amazing work of our children will be maintained by our residents and visitors to our borough and that we all respect our local environment and beaches”.
Helen Tomb, from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, who manages the Live Here Love Here partnership programme said, “We’re delighted to see such a strong collaboration between local schools, the community association and the local council in Donaghadee. This kind of partnership approach is what Live Here Love Here is all about. Marine litter is a serious global problem, but a lot of the litter we find on our beaches comes from local sources, which communities do have the power to tackle. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will soon be publishing our latest marine litter report and we expect to see data showing that plastic is once again the most common item found on our beaches. We’d encourage communities to do everything they can to reduce their use of single use plastic and to come together, like Donaghadee has, to clean up our beautiful coastline.”
Councillor Mark Brooks, Mayor of Ards and North Down was equally enthusiastic. “The establishment of the Marine Litter project shows the pride our young people have for the Ards and North Down area and shows their commitment to keeping our outdoor spaces clean and free of litter. Ards and North Down Borough Council is delighted to play a part in this project, which is helping educate young students about protecting the environment and respecting our communities. I would like to commend the schoolchildren for taking the time to keep our coastline clean and welcoming for residents and for those visiting the Borough, as well. Littering is a bad social habit and we all have a role to play in keeping our communities safe and tidy for everyone. I would encourage residents in Ards and North Down to get involved in this invaluable project and to lend a helping hand where they can.”