Coastal champions urged to spread the word during schools’ project day in Felixstowe
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Connecting young people with nature is one of the key aspirations among conservationists. One coastal environment project appears to have succeeded spectacularly, as John Grant reports.
You are the Champions - but you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got more work to do if the North Sea off Suffolk is to be kept as a clean and healthy haven for the broadest biodiversity it can possibly support.
That was the message that went out to schoolchildren in Felixstowe this week. They attended a celebration day at Felixstowe Academy that honoured their Herculean efforts in an innovative Coastal Champions project.
The project - funded by the Touching the Tide Heritage Lottery Funded Landscape Partnership Scheme and delivered with the help and expertise of Suffolk Wildlife Trust - involved six Felixstowe schools and began in January.
Coastal Champion pupils were chosen from Felixstowe’s Colneis Junior, Langer Primary, Grange Community Primary, Causton Junior and Kingsfleet Primary schools and Felixstowe Academy.
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They have been studying various issues in the project that seeks to increase young people’s knowledge and understanding of the local coastal and marine environment and the challenges it faces. The pupils are to act as champions for marine conservation, spreading the word throughout their schools.
At the celebration event they were congratulated on their work in the project - and reminded that they must not let up.
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Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s chairman of trustees Ian Brown told them he had been “incredibly impressed” by their “comprehension and understanding of the issues”.
But, he told them: “Your work is not finished - it has only just begun. You have got to continue the work - you are the Champions and we need you to talk to your school friends and your parents and get more and more people to help in the work you have started.”
Throughout the project, Suffolk Wildlife Trust people and wildlife co-ordinator Bev Rogers has worked closely with the schools. She has visited each one and organised a beach conference at Landguard Local Nature Reserve which was attended by experts from conservation organisations including the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and Essex Wildlife Trust, together with climate change specialist Dr Leanne Hepburn, of the University of Essex.
The project centred on four topics - sustainable fishing, pollution, climate change and multi-use access to beaches.
At the celebration day, the schools’ Coastal Champion teams each gave a presentation outlining the work they have undertaken.
The Grange Community Primary School pupils focused on pollution, paying special attention to the need to use recyclable milk cartons. Reducing litter around the school was a key aim and a “grounds day” had been held which produced big environmental improvements.
Kingsfleet Primary School pupils said their work centred on climate change and multi-use access to coastal areas. They had set up an environmental campaign which had as its catchphrase “Love Where You Live, Care For Where You Live”. It sought to raise people’s awareness of the value of clean beaches and clean water, they said.
They were working on a campaign leaflet and a newsletter that would be produced each term.
The Colneis Junior School team said they had been getting their marine environment messages across by the use of poetry.
They had written verses on climate change entitled Hotter, Hotter, Hotter and their poem on litter and recycling was called Turning the Tide On Trash. Their verses on the problem of overfishing were entitled Fish Are Running Out, they said.
Their display promoting sustainable fishing had been entered in Felixstowe in Flower and their work had featured on local radio in Felixstowe.
Causton Junior School’s team focussed on reducing rubbish and C02 emissions, improving biodiversity on the school site and raising awareness on energy matters.
They had even written to prime minister David Cameron - he had replied to say he would pass the school’s letter on to environment secretary Liz Truss.
Langer Primary School’s team said they had joined the project later than the other schools but were concentrating on sustainable fishing. They had contacted a Felixstowe Ferry fisherman and were planning to interview him.
Felixstowe Academy’s team said they were focusing their work on reducing litter and encouraging pupils to “cycle, walk or scoot” to school. The team had also produced a “pledge board” on which pupils were registering promises to help the marine environment in a variety of ways.