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Posted on Tue 04 Jul 2017

Ulidia Integrated College Scoop Top International Reporting Award.

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is an international programme run by the Foundation for Environmental Education in 34 countries. The programme aims to empower young people to take a stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and give them a platform to articulate these issues through the media of writing, photography or video in an annual reporting competition. YRE in Northern Ireland is administered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful through the Eco-Schools programme and is open to students aged 11-21 years.

Ulidia Integrated College, Carrickfergus, a Green Flag Ambassador Eco-School, has been working with Lycee Pole School in Madagascar on a number of environmental projects this year. They teamed up to enter an article in the International Collaboration category of the YRE competition 2017.

The combined project has been very interesting for the two schools, seeing the different issues pupils face in both countries but also their shared concerns and passion to care for the environment. Their article focused on the production and consumption of coffee. The pupils in Madagascar, a coffee growing region, considered the challenges of growing and selling coffee faced by Madagascar farmers. Ulidia pupils considered the benefits of purchasing Fair Trade coffee here at home and how it helps farmers around the world get a fair deal for their crops.

The article was submitted to the International YRE Jury in Copenhagen in June and both schools were delighted to win first place in the International Collaboration category. Their article will now be published in the Huffington Post and is available to read from the YRE website www.yre.global

Ulidia pupils in Year 10 also decided to raise money for the community in Madagascar and together through various activities raised £1500, enough to dig a well for a local primary school close to Lycee Pole.

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “We are so pleased that this international collaboration has resulted in a first place prize for these two schools. The environmental issues we face are global and will require a global solution. These young people are setting an example for all of us to follow. Well done to Ulidia for running such a successful Eco-Schools and YRE programmes, we hope they will inspire others to take part too.”

The Eco-Schools programme is delivered to schools throughout Northern Ireland in partnership with a range delivery partners including DAERA and most Councils. For more information or take part in YRE please contact us.

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YRE International Collaboration winning article 2017

Posted on Fri 30 Jun 2017

Eco-Schools NI reach landmark 1000th Green Flag in record breaking year.

Northern Ireland schools continue to excel in the international Eco-Schools programme, achieving a record number of Green Flag awards for the 6th consecutive year and awarding their 1000th Green Flag.

Eco-Schools is the world's leading environmental education programme. It is a pupil-led initiative with the aim to make environmental awareness and practical action an intrinsic part of school life.

Eco-Schools is operated by environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, which is dedicated to inspiring everyone to help make Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener and healthier place in which to live. The programme which has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

This year marked a landmark moment when Walker Memorial Primary School, Dungannon, received their first Green Flag and Northern Ireland’s 1000th Green Flag.

Diane Lockhart, Eco-Coordinator at Walker Memorial Primary School said: “The children were totally delighted that we got the 1000th Green Flag. All pupils are very involved with the areas of the Eco-Committee’s action plan it has brought these areas of learning alive.  Pupils are highly motivated, inspired and focused to partake in lessons related to Eco-Schools.  The programme provides pupils with another avenue of learning, those who are more practical and creative thrive on being involved in identifying the needs of the school and sharing their ideas for future action.” 

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful added: 
With support from the Department, Local Councils and many other partners, Eco-Schools is engaging our young people, who will be the next generation of business and political leaders, in developing eco-friendly behaviours that also help our economy. The programme is growing every year with more and more schools and young people making a real, tangible and positive impact on our environment through saving energy, reducing waste, picking up litter, travelling sustainably, providing biodiversity habitats and much more. Congratulations to Walker Memorial and all our schools who have achieved their Green Flag award; together we have reached this landmark 1000th Green Flag.’

This school year 149 schools achieved the prestigious, internationally recognised Green Flag award in recognition of the excellent progress they have been making in protecting the environment and moving towards a more sustainable future. The first Green Flag in the world was awarded to Downpatrick Nursery School in 1994. Since then the programme has consistently grown. There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of schools achieving the award for the 7th year in a row - increasing from 55 in 2010/11 to 97 in 2011/12; 103 in 2012/13; 114 in 2013/14; 128 in 2014/15; 136 in 2015/16 and now 149 in 2016/17.

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List of Green Flag School 2016-17

Posted on Fri 30 Jun 2017

Belfast pupils display eco-excellence at Stormont celebration.

Schools from all across Belfast gathered at Stormont to celebrate environmental excellence with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools and Belfast City Council for the third year of the successful Wheelie Big Challenge. The challenge saw pupils from 34 Belfast schools investigate and engage in practical actions to reduce waste, particularly food waste, in school and at home by reducing, reusing and recycling.

The event was held in the spectacular setting of the Long Gallery in Stormont. Schools were invited to present their final findings and actions for this year’s challenge which included everything from wormeries to welly-boot planters. Many introduced composting and brown bin collections to tackle food waste for the first time. One participating school collected 1500 plastic bottles to create a greenhouse and another cancelled written homework for a week and set pupils the task of creating something useful from recycled materials around the house instead.

Botanic Primary School took first place in the Primary category, second were Strandtown Primary School and third, St Joseph’s Primary School, Ballyhackamore. St Louise’s Comprehensive College took first place in the Post Primary category, with Fleming Fulton taking second, and St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School coming third. St Peter’s Nursery and St Michael’s Nursery took joint first place in the Nursery category.

Nine Belfast Eco-Schools were also officially presented with the prestigious and internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag award for excellence in environmental work in their schools: St Teresa’s Primary, St Peter’s Nursery, Greenwood House, Elmgrove Primary, Seaview Primary, Sacred Heart Primary, Holy Family Primary, Our Lady’s Girls’ Primary and St Maria Goretti Nursery School. 

Alderman Tommy Sandford, Chairman Belfast City Council People and Communities Committee, said: “I’d like to congratulate all those who have taken part in the Wheelie Big Challenge. Reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill, particularly food waste, is central to Belfast City Council’s current campaign, and it’s fantastic to hear so many creative ideas. The enthusiasm shown by these young people is truly infectious; we’re delighted to have them as waste ambassadors for the city.”

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “Congratulations to all the schools receiving awards through Belfast City Council’s Wheelie Big Challenge. Today was a wonderful opportunity to reward inspiring Eco-Schools that are making Belfast a cleaner, greener and more sustainable place to live. The pupils and teachers have given us all much food for thought, about how we live, whilst dramatically reducing food waste going to landfill.”

The Eco-Schools programme is the world’s largest environmental education programme which aims to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of school life. Eco-Schools work through a simple seven step process to implement behavioural change and study a range of topics, such as waste. By participating in projects like the Wheelie Big Challenge schools are able to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable as they work through the Eco-Schools programme to their Green Flag award. The programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and most local Councils including Belfast City Council.

Posted on Fri 30 Jun 2017

Young Travel Challengers say ‘#GetonboardNI’ during Bus +Train Week

School pupils right across Northern Ireland have been rewarded for their efforts to use more sustainable transport during the 2016/17 Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge.

A special prize-giving took place at Belfast Central Station during Translink’s Bus + Train Week, June 5 – 11; a celebration of the benefits of using public transport.

Over a two-week period, 24 local schools participated in the ‘Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge’ with 1640 pupils monitoring their travel patterns and making an effort to walk, cycle, use the bus or train for the school run. There was a massive shift away from car use to sustainable travel with 11,464 sustainable journeys made.

Ulidia Integrated College – Carrickfergus, St Malachy’s PS – Carnagat, Mill Strand PS – Portrush and St Patrick’s PS – Newry were the top performers encouraging pupils and parents to choose more environmentally-friendly transport modes. Kilmoyle PS – Ballymoney also won an Ulsterbus Tours educational class coach trip and day out in Dublin. 

Thanking pupils, parents and teachers for their participation, Gordon Milligan, Deputy Group Chief Executive, Translink, said:

“Congratulations to all 24 schools who successfully completed the travel challenge.

“By holding this event during Bus + Train Week we want to encourage more people to choose public transport which plays an important role in making Northern Ireland a place where people want to live, work and visit. And it’s very encouraging to see more people getting on board – over 1.5 million additional fare-paying passenger journeys were made last year.

“Our services keep people connected and helps address the challenge of congestion and climate change creating healthier towns and cities. On an individual level, ‘active travel’ modes give people choices, freedom and more opportunities in terms of business, education, shopping and leisure activities.

“Every pupil here today sets a shining example to other young people and we would like to thank them for participating in the Challenge and joining us during Bus + Train Week as we say #GetonboardNI!” said Gordon.

Ian Humphreys, CEO at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: "By capturing the hearts and minds of our teachers and young people, the Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge is now bringing about real reductions in the morning school gate congestion. Before the Challenge just over a third of all journeys (34%) to and from school were made without the car.  This rose to over half (55%) made during the Challenge, showing what a huge difference this fun educational activity is making.

“Increasing use of greener forms of transport such as bus and train is all part of showing you live here and love here and there has never been a better time to start than during Bus + Train Week," Ian added.

Posted on Fri 12 May 2017

Pupils take action to ‘Letter Less’ with Eco-Schools campaign.

Thirty schools across Northern Ireland are determined to combat litter and waste by participating in the Wrigley Company Foundation ‘Litter Less’ campaign. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful are delighted to be delivering the campaign for the sixth year through the Eco-Schools programme in partnership with the Foundation for Environmental Education. With £43 million spent on street cleaning annually in Northern Ireland this issue is ever more important. The global campaign is running in 27 countries around the world, raising awareness of litter problems and encouraging positive behaviour changes. Over the period of the campaign 729,394 pupils in 1355 schools worldwide have been working on reducing litter and waste to make the world a better place.

Local school St Brigid’s Primary, Newry, completed a very successful clean-up of their village, Whitecross, as part of their Litter Less actions. The pupils were surprised how much litter they found in the area which at first glance seemed quite tidy. A closer look soon revealed lots of rubbish stuck between fences and under bushes. The pupils were proud of the 15 bags of rubbish they collected and pleased that the village is now a better environment. The school has also been in touch with Indian Eco-School, Vidya Niketan School, Jamnagar, to swap stories and ideas of how to reduce litter in their local communities and have learnt much about the global problem of litter.

Alex West, Senior Corporate Affairs Manager at Wrigley UK said: “At Wrigley, we take the issue of littered gum very seriously and firmly believe that education is the only long term way to tackle it. Litter Less is a fantastic example of the work we do with partners to educate young people about looking after their local area and disposing of litter responsibly. Wrigley are delighted to be able to continue to support this work and encourage the creative and innovative approaches young people are taking to reduce litter in their communities.”

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “This is the 6th year of the Litter Less Campaign which is really proving to be a great way to educate our young people further on the positive reasons for littering less. The 30 schools will be supported to implement practical actions to reduce littering and it is fantastic to see that many of the schools are planning to get the wider community involved too. Well done to the pupils of St Brigid’s for a great job done!”