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Posted on Tue 02 Jul 2019

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) 2019 Winners Celebrated

Ards and North Down Borough Council hosted this year’s YRE winners in Bangor where the students received their awards, completed an exercise on the SDGs, took part in a litter pick and visited the sea bin in Bangor Marina.

 20 schools participated in YRE in NI this year with the support of the Wrigley Litter Less. We were really impressed with the entries submitted to the competition, reflecting the many excellent actions being taken on litter and waste in these schools.

 National winners in the competition were:

Video 15-18, 1st place – St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School

Video 11-14, 1st place – Belfast Royal Academy

Video 11-14, 2nd place – St Louise’s Comprehensive College

Video 11-14, 3rd place – St Dominic’s High School

Video 11-14, Honourable Mention – New Bridge Integrated College


Written 11-14 1st place – St Louise’s Comprehensive College

Written 11-14 2nd place – St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar

Written 11-14 3rd place - Wallace High School


Photo 11-14 1st place – Wallace High School 

From thousands of entries submitted to national YRE Competitions in 36 countries this year, the top 200 finalists reached the International YRE Competition 2019. This is the largest number of entries YRE International has ever received, highlighting the growing movement of youth voices and the global interest in the YRE programme

 The awarded entries reflect some of the very best work carried out by YRE students from around the world. The International Jury was very impressed with the students’ choice of interesting local topics, including their reflection on the links to the Sustainable Development Goals as well as their skills on investigative journalism and critical thinking.

We were delighted Northern Ireland had an International winning entry for the second year running from Wallace High School – Josh and Max Kamalarajah, with their photo entry ‘It’s time to wake up to the problem of plastic.’ 

Congratulations to the boys for winning an international prize for the second year running. 

All the International winners can be found here.

Read an interview from FEE with Josh and Max about their win here.

Posted on Fri 07 Jun 2019

Translink & Eco Schools celebrate 10 years of schools' sustainable travel on World Environment Day

Pupils from across Northern Ireland attended a special awards ceremony at Belfast City Hall to celebrate 10 years of the Translink Eco Schools Travel Challenge.

Taking place on World Environment Day (5 June 2019) during Translink’s Bus + Train Week (June 3 – 9), the awards recognized pupil efforts to use more sustainable travel options for the journey to and from school.

Over 3100 pupils across 39 local schools participated in the initiative in 2019 highlighting the importance of walking, cycling and using the bus or train more often for the school run. There was a 56% increase in sustainable journeys and a 29% decrease in car use during the challenge.

The award-winning top performers were Ulidia Integrated College, Carrickfergus, St Colum’s Primary School, Portstewart and Aghadrumsee Primary School in Enniskillen. St Patrick’s Primary School, Hilltown, also scooped a special Ulsterbus Tours school trip prize.

Pupil Caoimhe Gartlan from St Mary’s Primary School, Maguiresbridge, won the #Smartmovers Art Competition Award which asked pupils to design their very own advert to celebrate 10 years of the travel challenge. Caoimhe’s winning design will now be featured on the sides of buses in her local area.

A Special Recognition Award was also presented to St Malachy’s Primary School, Carnagat, Newry, for their long-term support and participation in the Travel Challenge over the past 10 years.

Posted on Wed 05 Jun 2019

A Wheelie Big Success!

Eco-Schools were delighted to celebrate with schools from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council who took part in the council's first year of the Wheelie Big Challenge copmetition.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth, was delighted to present Fairview Primary School with their winning award at the Wheelie Big Challenge event last week. Whitehouse Primary School and Mount Saint Michael's were placed a well deserved second and third place respectively.

Alderman Smyth commented: "As a Council we’re working hard to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and improve recycling rates for the Borough.  The Wheelie Big Challenge competition gives schools the opportunity to help protect the environment, reduce their school’s waste disposal costs and win some great prizes"

Each school completed an initial waste audit, carried out by the pupils in the Eco-Committee, to get a starting point.  They were provided with teaching materials and received support from both Eco-Schools and Council.  The schools then make changes to how they manage their waste, in keeping with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle approach.  Finally, they completed another waste audit and submitted the findings to Eco-Schools, along with details of their activities as their final competition entry. 
The average audit results from schools across the challenge have so far shown decrease in their landfill bins of dry recyclables of 68% and a decrease in food waste of nearly 50%. One school has made a remarkable impact with a decrease in dry recyclables and food waste of 99% from their landfill bins!
Over 15 schools engaged with the challenge, with 5 schools progressing to the Final Event.
The judges for the final event were Lynsey Daly, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Sue Christie, KNIB Chairperson and Billly Conway from Cookstown Textile Recycling.  Pupils from each school told the judges about the actions they have taken to reduce the waste going to landfill and inspired with their innovation and enthusiasm.   
The children were also treated to a creature filled nature talk from Eco-Mantella, and interactive activities with the Waste Education Officer and Habitat for Humanity.

Congratulations to the winning schools and also to the other finalists Parkhall Integrated College and Greystone Primary School for their significant progress and actions to helping reduce waste to landfill and become more environmentally friendly both in school and in the home.

Any schools interested in tackling waste within their school can use the same waste audit, available within the Data Zone when they log in to the Eco-Schools website. For more information on how your school can tackle its waste contact the Eco-Schools team on 02890 736920 or eco-schools@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.