Latest Laois News: Young Laois environmentalists lead way!

Latest Laois News: Young Laois environmentalists lead way!

Inspiring young Laois environmentalists leading the way as ‘Picker Pals’

Primary school children in Laois 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, 10 schools in Laois join 105 other schools from 9 different local authority around the county in the Picker Pals programme. 

Mindy O’Brien Co-ordinator of VOICE had this to say:

VOICE is delighted that Laois County Council are funding the programme locally and supporting this very exciting journey, which aims to see a Picker Pack in every classroom in the country over the coming years,”

Laois Schools taking part in programme

The 10 schools in Laois who have signed up to the programme are;

Ballyadams National School , Ballyadams

Clonaghadoo National School , Mountmellick

Clough National School , Portlaoise

Cosby National School, Stradbally

Derrylamogue National School , Rosenallis

Errill National School , Portlaoise

Mayo National School , Crettyard

Rath National School , Ballybrittas

Rushall National School , Mountrath

St. Fiacc’s National School , Graiguecullen

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.

Patrick Jackson, Picker Pals Creator says:

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,”

Brochure Picker Pals Schools Information 2020 by John Hayes on Scribd

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 less that 50% of Irish town are now deemed to be clean1.  Now more than ever we need everyone in the community to work together to reduce the amount of littering happening in the first place and also to help clean it up. This is exactly what Picker Pals is doing. The programme teaches children about the problems litter can cause to animals and the environment and also provides families with the tools to actually do something about this.  !0 schools in Laois have signed up to the programme and will begin their activity once schools reopen.

The programme is also active in 8 other local authorities having being piloted in Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council in early 2020. Many schools in these areas are seeing the benefits of the programme. Lynn Harley, Principal at the Burrow National School in Howth says “We have noticed our pupils’ awareness and pride in looking after their local environment has increased hugely since the introduction of the programme in our school. I think all schools would benefit from being involved with the Picker Pals programme,”

Laois schoolchildren being good environmentalists

Litter-picking can provide many benefits besides that of a cleaner local environment. Angela Kenny, Picker Pals Programme 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. It really is a great all round positive outdoor activity,