03 Dec 2021

Picker Pals is inspiring and equipping a generation of Laois children to love their environment by tackling litter

VOICE Ireland wants to tackle the scourge of litter and to create a generation of young environmentalists.

picker pals

Picker Pals in action

Greta Thunberg has inspired a generation to embrace our planet and a grassroots programme equipping primary school children in Laois to play their part by 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) aims to motivate but also equips children with “Picker Packs” containing everything children need to go litter picking.  At the end of the programme’s first year in operation, 10 schools in Laois (list at end of story) join 105 other schools from nine different local authority around the county in the Picker Pals programme. 

“VOICE is delighted that Laois County 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,” says Mindy O’Brien Co-ordinator of VOICE.

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. 

VOICE says 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.

“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.  More below picture.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a marked increase in the amount of litter in our towns and cities. VOICE SAYS A recent study showed less that 50% of Irish town are now deemed to be clean.  Now more than ever we need everyone in the community to work together to reduce the amount of littering happening in the first place and also to help clean it up.

VOICE says this is exactly what Picker Pals is doing. The programme teaches children about the problems litter can cause to animals and the environment and also provides families with the tools to actually do something about this.  !0 schools in Laois have signed up to the programme and will begin their activity once schools reopen. 

VOICE says the programme is also active in eight other local authorities having being piloted in Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council in early 2020. Many schools in these areas are seeing the benefits of the programme.

Lynn Harley is the Principal at the Burrow National School in Howth.

“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,” he said. More below picture.

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!”

Litter-picking can provide many benefits besides that of a cleaner local environment says Angela KennyPicker Pals Programme Manager.

“Litter picking can have a really positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing, getting people out of the house, relieving stress and anxiety and giving a great sense of achievement and empowerment. It really is a great all round positive outdoor activity,” she said.

The 10 schools in Laois who have signed up to the programme are; 

Ballyadams National School , Ballyadams

Clonaghadoon National School , Mountmellick

Clough National School , Portlaoise

Cosby National School, Stradbally

Derrylamougue National School , Rosenallis 

Errill National School , Portlaoise

Mayo National School , Crettyard

Rath National School , Ballybrittas 

Rushall National School , Portlaoise

St. Fiacc's National School , Graiguecullen

More below picture.

VOICE is a member-based Irish environmental charity that empowers individuals and local communities to take positive action to conserve our natural resources. It also advocates for the government and the corporate sector to adopt environmentally responsible behaviours, and for the development of strong national policies on waste and water issues.

For more info see

Picker Pals Linktree

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