The programme, run by environmental NGO VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment) and supported by Cork City Council’s Waste Enforcement section, motivates and equips children with “Picker Packs”, containing everything children need to go litter-picking.
Using upcycled and fully reusable packaging, Picker Pals provides classrooms 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. The programme also uses songs to help 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.
Lord Mayor Cllr. Colm Kelleher praised the initiative, saying: “The key to successfully tackling the mounting litter problem we face is creating behaviour change. Picker Pals’ success lies in inspiring a positive mindset in children and families around the issue of litter and their own power to make a difference. It’s vital that we encourage a sense of environmental stewardship and civic pride in children at an early age. I’d love to see all schools in Cork City get involved in the Picker Pals programme.”
Since the start of the pandemic there has been a marked increase in the amount of litter in our towns and cities. A recent IBAL survey showed that only 50% of Irish towns are now deemed to be clean. Cork City Council supports many activities to combat littering but winning over the hearts and minds of younger people is recognised as being key to bringing about the required behavioural change.
“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,” says Patrick Jackson, Picker Pals Creator.
Mindy O’Brien, Co-ordinator of VOICE said: “We are delighted that Cork City 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.”
Ms. Kingston, 2nd class teacher in Greenmount National School, Cork says: “My class loved it. Anytime the kids took the pack home their parents sent me pictures, which I printed and stuck on the Picker Pals cardboard poster. It was so lovely to see all of the family getting involved in the project.”
Starting as a pilot programme in 2019, Picker Pals plans to have over 1,200 classrooms across the country involved in the programme this year. Primary schools in Cork City can now get involved in this unique, fun and free programme.
Cork City Council encourages interested schools to get in contact with Picker Pals firstname.lastname@example.org or to register their interest on the Picker Pals website – www.pickerpalsworld.org. Places are limited so early registration is advised.