Environment Awareness & Education

Picker Pals Primary School Litter-Picking Programme

News Type 
Friday, January 22, 2021
dlr County
Intro Text 

Primary school children in Ireland are taking a stand against litter in their area, through a unique school based litter-picking programme called Picker Pals. The programme, run by environmental NGO VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment) motivates and equips children with “Picker Packs” containing everything children need to go litter picking. At the end of the programme’s first year in operation over 2,800 children in 115 schools across 9 different local authority areas are involved in the programme.

Using upcycled and fully reusable packaging, Picker Pals provide each classroom with bespoke story and activity books, in both Irish and English, and litter pickers 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 Picker Pals song helps 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. Patrick Jackson, Picker Pals Creator feels “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”.

Picker Pals is proving very popular with county councils and and corporate sponsors alike.  AIB, eShopWorld, Intel, Sky, eBay and the Quinn Family Foundation have all gotten behind the programme as have Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. An Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Una Power states "The environmental dedication and resourcefulness of young people inspires us all to have pride and take responsibility for our local areas. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council are delighted to be involved in trailing this new educational initiative. Picker Pals has introduced a new fun and rewarding way of raising awareness and education surrounding litter and the impacts it can have on our schools and communities."

Schools are also seeing the benefits of the programme. Lynn Harley, Principal at the Burrow National School in Howth says “We have noticed our pupils’ awareness and pride in looking after their local environment has increased hugely since the introduction of the programme in our school. I think all schools would benefit from being involved with the Picker Pals programme.”

Picker Pal parent, Sheelagh Massey talks about the effect the programme has had on her daughter, Abby. “We had loads of fun. She really, really enjoyed the sense of responsibility and now every time we go for a walk, she takes a bag and we pick up litter. It’s had a dramatic impact on her. The picker pack makes it so easy. Once they get the pack, they’re the boss!”