The children of the city’s Hanover Street School are celebrating today (Thursday 14 June) after being named UK Champions of the Better Energy School Awards.
Their project ‘HSS Flying Eco Pigs Change the World!’ took top spot in the nationwide competition and scooped a £5,000 prize presented to them by celebrity guests including Naomi Wilkinson, Julia Bradbury, Cel Spellman and children’s author Andy Stanton.
The Better Energy School Awards is a nationwide competition for 5 to 11 year olds, which is run by the Young People’s Trust for the Environment (YPTE) in partnership with Total. The competition, which aims to generate interest in the environment and raise awareness of the need for sustainable energy sources, has received entries from almost 275,000 children since it began in 2007.
The children of Hanover Street School, who were aged 6-11 when they did their project, learned about a wide range of environmental issues including single use plastics and the problems posed by discarded chewing gum on the streets of Aberdeen. They thought that if they could make their Eco Pigs (very cute papier mache pigs with eco messages on their wings) fly, then perhaps they could change the world.
Aberdeen City Council Co Leader , Jenny Laing, said: “This is fabulous news and a phenomenal achievement for the pupils and staff at Hanover Street School. I visited the school only last week to see for myself the tremendous work being done by the youngsters in persuading local businesses to adopt more eco-friendly approaches. I was also delighted to be presented with a flying eco-pig of my own which now takes pride of place in my office!
“We in Aberdeen City Council pride ourselves on our innovative approaches to waste and recycling and so it’s just great to know our young people are as passionate as we are and equally committed to a better environment for all.
“My warmest congratulations go to Head Teacher Alan Markey, teacher Elizabeth Elrick and of course the Hanover Street pupils for their inspirational work. I hope they all had a fabulous time at the award ceremony at London Zoo; it was very well-deserved”.
Inspired by the environmental damage they had seen in Blue Planet 2, they approached local shopkeepers, cafe and bar owners to ask them to stop providing single use items like drinking straws made from plastic in their restaurants. They even got the school caterers to end the use of single use plastic for school lunches! Businesses that agreed with the children’s requests to make changes received an Eco Pig to display on their premises.
The Eco Pigs went far and wide, with one going to the home of Sir David Attenborough, who sent them a personal letter of thanks for the work they were doing to protect the environment for the future.
Teacher Elizabeth Elrick said “Our Eco Committee, Eco Craft Group, Primary 3 and Primary 5 children have worked tirelessly to reduce single-use plastic, and educate and encourage others to do the same. Their project has had a great impact in our school, local community and further afield, helping change attitudes and behaviour towards single-use plastics.”
YPTE Director, Peter Littlewood, said: “For the children of Hanover Street School, knowing that they have been chosen as the very best of over 21,000 children who took part this year has to be a great feeling! This is a fantastic example of how with the right guidance from their teachers, young people can achieve so much, for themselves, their families, their community and our environment. What they have done to reduce the use of single use plastics is truly an inspiration!”
The Better Energy School Awards competition will run again in 2018-19. For details on how to enter or to see details of previous winners, please visit http://betterenergyschoolawards.org
Photo caption: Hanover Street School ‘UK Champions of the 2018 Better Energy School Awards’ at today’s ceremony at London Zoo (photo courtesy of Christian Trampeneau)