Mill­street pupils short­listed for

IT’S A CASE OF ‘WASTE NOT, WANT NOT’ AS MONTHS OF HARD WORK PAY OFF FOR IN­TREPID STU­DENTS

The Corkman - - NEWS -

A GROUP of Sec­ond year stu­dents from Mill­street Com­mu­nity School have re­ceived the hon­our of be­ing short­listed for the ECO UNESCO Young En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Award 2015.

This achieve­ment comes at the end of five months of hard work de­vel­op­ing their project en­ti­tled Waste Not Want Not dur­ing their lunchtimes with teacher Ms. Elaine Power.

The process be­gan in Novem­ber 2014 when a group of stu­dents ex­pressed in­ter­est in par­tic­i­pated in a train­ing day fa­cil­i­tated by ECO UNESCO in Lim­er­ick. This or­gan­i­sa­tion’s aims in­clude, ‘rais­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness, un­der­stand­ing and knowl­edge among young peo­ple and to pro­mote their per­sonal devel­op­ment through prac­ti­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties’.

At the train­ing day the stu­dents heard about a project called the Young En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Award which en­cour­ages young peo­ple to get ac­tively in­volved in tack­ling a lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue which may also have global links. The stu­dents were en­thused by the prospect of work­ing on this task and af­ter a lot of brain­storm­ing de­cided on deal­ing with the is­sue of ‘re­cy­cling’ in school.

In the short term they wanted to en­cour­age and pro­mote re­cy­cling, with ‘re­duc­ing and reusing’ part of a more long term goal. The stu­dents were clearly en­thused by this.

When asked why she wanted to get in­volved 2nd year Paulina Railaite said, “I wanted to help make my school a bet­ter place and to help other stu­dents to learn more about how to re­duce waste and keep it as clean and tidy as pos­si­ble.”

The first as­pect of their project was cen­tred on un­der­tak­ing some re­search. They found out about waste and waste man­age­ment in the vicin­ity and used this knowl­edge to an­a­lyse the cur­rent waste sit­u­a­tion in the school.

They de­signed a ‘waste sur­vey’ which they car­ried out at regular in­ter­vals to high­light the waste is­sues and lo­cate the prob­lem ar­eas. They also pho­tographed and recorded all their find­ings.

Grace O’Con­nor ex­plained that they de­cided to base their project around ‘waste’ be­cause. “From our anal­y­sis in the school we found that there was def­i­nitely room for im­prove­ment so we de­cided to try and ad­dress it,” said Grace.

Fol­low­ing on from their re­search they de­cided to ap­proach waste man­age­ment in a more tar­geted way by fo­cus­ing on spe­cific types of re­cy­cling.

The group worked with the en­tire 2nd year CSPE class and their teacher Mrs. Bernie McAuliffe to carry out an ac­tion project which fo­cused on the proper dis­posal of waste bat­ter­ies.

A draw took place to en­cour­age stu­dents to bring in house­hold bat­ter­ies and was huge suc­cess with one stu­dent bring­ing in al­most 400 bat­ter­ies.

On the days of the col­lec­tion two sta­tions were set up where peo­ple could come and drop off their bat­ter­ies and in re­turn get a line for a draw where the win­ner re­ceived €50 and there was a €25 sec­ond prize.

It was a huge suc­cess, with ten boxes of bat­ter­ies be­ing col­lected which have been col­lected by WEEE. As an added bonus WEEE donates to the Lau­raLynn Foun­da­tion so the col­lec­tion helped sup­port a great cause.

A lengthy re­port on the school’s project had to be sub­mit­ted by Ms. Power along with the stu­dents to ECO UNESCO be­fore the ‘Waste Not Want Not’ project could be con­sid­ered for any type of ex­ter­nal recog­ni­tion. The hard work paid off as it won a place in the Mun­ster heat of the Young En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Award which was held in the Life­time Lab in Cork.

This took the form of a Dragon’s Den style event, with each school hav­ing to give a pre­sen­ta­tion of their project and then tak­ing ques­tions from the ‘dragons’.

The idea of tak­ing part in such an event might prove daunt­ing for many peo­ple but Emily Ring said: “The ‘dragon’s den’ wasn’t as gru­elling an ex­pe­ri­ence as I thought it would be. It turned out to be a great ex­pe­ri­ence. The judges gave us great ad­vice on ways we could im­prove our project.”

One of the most im­por­tant as­pects of the project was rais­ing aware­ness, so to­gether with the Mill­street Com­mu­nity School Stu­dent Coun­cil a school wide poster com­pe­ti­tion was or­gan­ised. Stu­dents were given a broad brief which was based on pro­mot­ing re­cy­cling. The win­ning posters will be re­pro­duced and used around the school to en­cour­age this. Al­most fifty posters were pro­duced to a very high stan­dard.

The win­ners were cho­sen by Laura Cahill, ECO UNESCO Learn­ing 2 Change Our World Of­fi­cer. She judged them on how well they com­mu­ni­cated and pro­moted the value of re­cy­cling. First place was Niall Mur­phy, sec­ond was Brídelle Cronin (both TY) and third was 1st year Siob­han Cronin.

An­other cre­ative way the group de­cided to raise aware­ness was by designing and cre­at­ing out­fits for the Tran­si­tion Year Fash­ion Show which took place re­cently.

The gar­ments were made from waste col­lected in the can­teen dur­ing lunch times. TY and 5th year stu­dents were very ac­tively in­volved in this el­e­ment of the project along with teacher Ms Denise O’Leary who helped make the items.

The out­fits were mod­elled on the night by Kelly Healy, Dy­lan O’Leary, Lisa O’Con­nor and Martin O’Rior­dan.

To put the fi­nal el­e­ment of the project in place the stu­dents had to cre­ate new re­cy­cling bins. The 2nd year art class, sup­ported by their teacher Mr. Barry Fraser, cre­ated a fan­tas­tic and fun Frog Bin which will now be used in school to en­cour­age ev­ery­one to take a ‘ leap’ to change our world by plac­ing re­cy­clable items in it.

It is hoped to add to this col­lec­tion of new bins in the months ahead.

Com­ment­ing on why they chose to begin cre­at­ing their own re­cy­cling bins as part of this project, Denise Healy ex­plained: “We wanted to do some­thing that would bring about change in the school but we had a limited amount of time. We dis­cov­ered that there wasn’t enough re­cy­cling be­ing done in the school and so we felt that this was the best way to make a dif­fer­ence.”

Fi­nally, news came through that the Waste Not Want Not project had been short­listed for the ECO UNESCO Young En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Award 2015.

Com­ment­ing on the awards Elaine Nevin, Na­tional Direc­tor of ECO-UNESCO said: “Over the past num­ber of years we have seen just how pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated young peo­ple all over Ire­land are to pro­tect­ing and rais­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and this year is no ex­cep­tion.

“Th­ese fi­nal­ists have helped to greatly im­prove their lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment through their hard work de­vel­op­ing com­mu­nity gar­dens, or­gan­is­ing lit­ter clean ups, cre­at­ing lo­cal bio­di­ver­sity trails, the list is end­less.

“We are de­lighted that Young En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Award 2015 is our big­gest show­case to date.”

On re­ceiv­ing the news that the group had been short­listed Danielle Mackey Hughes said, “I felt de­lighted. It’s a great achieve­ment and a re­sult of the ef­forts of a lot of peo­ple.”

Af­ter all that has hap­pened, the stu­dents in­volved have had a lot to re­flect on.

When asked to com­ment on the im­pact of the project in the school, Fionán Buck­ley ex­plained, “It was in­ter­est­ing to see the at­ti­tudes of our fel­low stu­dents change as the weeks pro­gressed. The project was truly a group ef­fort, with stu­dents and teach­ers work­ing to­gether.”

With re­gards to re­duc­ing, reusing and re­cy­cling, Ciara Man­ning is clear that this year’s ef­fort on re­cy­cling in the school is only the start. She ex­plained, “We hope that we can set up bins all around the school and to keep cam­paign­ing so that ev­ery­one gets the mes­sage about re­cy­cling.

“We also hope to cre­ate re­us­able, per­son­alised wa­ter bot­tles which will def­i­nitely cut down on the amount of plas­tic bot­tles that need to be used.”

Her col­league Michela Mal­izia added: “It will be im­por­tant to cut down on the dis­pos­able, ‘one-useonly’ items such as plas­tic cups and sin­gle por­tion bis­cuits, and also en­cour­ag­ing the pur­chase of foods that are sold loose rather than in plas­tic trays.”

The in­volve­ment in the ECO UNESCO project forms part of the Mill­street Com­mu­nity School’s ef­forts to in­tro­duce devel­op­ment ed­u­ca­tion across the school over the com­ing years. It is sup­ported by World­Wise Global Schools which is part of Ir­ish Aid.

Above: Ger­ard O’Han­lon and Lisa O’Con­nor (TY’s) try­ing out the new re­cy­cling bin that formed part of the Young En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Award en­try.

Right: Ms. Elaine Power with the win­ning en­tries of the En­cour­ag­ing Re­cy­cling poster com­pe­ti­tion held in the school re­cently: Siob­han Cronin (3rd place), Niall Mur­phy (1st place), Brídelle Cronin (2nd place).

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