Mayor of City and County of Waterford, Cllr. Joe Kelly, is giving his full support to the roll out of Picker Pals, a litter-picking primary schools programme in Waterford.
This year the programme will grow from the 10 classrooms that took part last year to 36 classrooms this year. The programme, run by environmental NGO VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment) has been a great success to date and thanks to the support of Waterford City and County Council and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, the organisers are looking for schools in Waterford to get involved this year.
Speaking at the launch of this programme at the Presentation Primary School, Cllr Joe Kelly, Mayor of City and County of Waterford said, “We all see the effects that litter can have on our local areas. Raising awareness and taking real action are essential parts of the solution. This Picker Pals programme gives young people the tools and positive motivation to develop stewardship of their local environments. By taking the message home with them and carrying out a cleanup of their area, they are both helping to spread the message and care for their environment.”
Using upcycled and fully reusable packaging, Picker Pals provide each classroom with bespoke story and activity books, in both Irish and English, and picker-uppers 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.
Children’s book author and creator of the Picker Pals programme, Patrick Jackson said, “If we can influence children at this key age, we have a chance of tackling the litter crisis. Picker Pals creates a positive mindset in children and families around the issue of litter and their own power to make a difference.”
“The Picker Pals programme supplements our existing litter education programme for schools and has been especially valuable during the last few months” said Ella Ryan, Environmental Awareness Officer at Waterford City and County Council. “It helps children to understand how they can make simple, positive changes in their own neighbourhood.”
Teachers and Principals are also very enthusiastic about the programme. Niamh Curry, 1st class Teacher at Presentation Primary school, Waterford city said, “My class took part in the picker pals initiative last year and it was a fantastic experience with parents and children alike really enjoying it. One parent and pupil bumped into the residence committee while out litter-picking and from that they have decided to organise a weekly clean up for their estate and my pupil can be in charge of it. Thank you so much for this programme and I would highly recommend spreading it out to all schools, if possible.”