Pupils from across the Council area gathered recently to speak out on environmental issues as part of a 2024 Environmental Youth Speak competition organised by our Waste Management team at the Island Arts Centre Lisburn. 

A total of 18 young people from 12 primary and post primary schools participated in the event held to advance environmental awareness among the younger generation by providing them with a platform to research, speak out, and examine environmental issues.  The competition was broken down into two sections Junior P6 & P7 and Senior Y8, Y9 and Y10.

Councillor Caleb McCready, Chair of the Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee said: “Combating climate change and preserving our environment, oceans and biodiversity is a global priority. We need everyone to play their part in increasing recycling and choosing sustainable options such as reuse in order to move to a Circular Economy and help protect our natural resources. 

I’d like to thank schools and students for their contributions to the council’s Environmental Youth Speak competition this year. Empowering the next generation to speak out is a hugely important part of effective climate action globally, and it will only have a positive effect on our Council too.

Protecting the environment is an important role for everyone and it is encouraging to hear pupils talk so passionately about waste reduction and recycling. I hope their speeches influence fellow classmates, friends and family to reduce, reuse and recycle in the years ahead.”

‘Back to the future’ was the theme for the Junior section and pupils were required to research how and why waste has increased dramatically over the past 50 years and highlight lessons that can be learned from the past to reduce waste in the future. 

The senior section had a theme of ‘How can we put the brakes on fast fashion’ asking them to discuss the impact of fast fashion globally. 

The aim of the competition was to encourage environmental awareness among young people by providing them with an opportunity to research environmental issues.  

Taking the Junior section Winners’ Cups back to their school was Abbey McBride & Grace Wilkinson of Dundonald P.S., with Kirsten Harvey of Riverdale P.S. in second place and Holly Mullen & Rayne Lundy of Annahilt P.S in 3rd place.

The Senior Section winners trophy went to Molly McWilliams of Laurelhill Community College, with James Muldoon of Lagan College in second place and Eve Courtney & Zola Carnew of Wallace High School in 3rd place.

All participants received a certificate and a reusable shopping bag made from recycled material and an Insulated Stainless Steel drink bottle.

If you would like more information on how schools can take part in future editions of the competition or to book a visit to your school by the Waste Education Officer, please  email: waste.education@lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk