At Damers First School, each class makes a termly pledge to help people, the environment or animals which gives every child the opportunity to have a voice and speak passionately about environmental issues they believe in. A Year 3 class collected 156 plastic bottles and cans raising £15.60 by using a reverse vending machine. Damers’ children inspired students from Hardyes (the secondary school in Dorchester) to use recycle bins and set up a Green Committee. The children worked with Litter Free Dorset and a graphic designer to put together a Litter Policy of five steps to keep the school’s grounds and the town free of litter. The poster will be used in schools across Dorchester. Eleven children in the class have be awarded the Green Blue Peter Badge.
The children went to Westminster to speak with Michael Gove, Environment Secretary about the importance of an all-in Deposit Return Scheme. The children gave Mr Gove their five golden rules for a deposit return system, a book with pictures that had been drawn by children across the school, a paper weight of a can which represented what our fossils could look like in 100 years’ time if we do not act now. They were filmed by Newsround and CPRE which stimulated national interest. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/47404939 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzs2lKnMP4E
In addition, the school became an SAS Plastic Free School in May 2018. It is now leading Plastic Free Community status for Dorchester. They are the first group of children in the UK to have lead both these projects. The children have the support from the Town Council, Dorchester BID, and Dorset Council, Litter Free Dorset and Sir Oliver Letwin MP. They have written to all the local head teachers asking them to make their schools plastic free by removing three single use plastics. Eight schools have signed up so far. They created posters giving the local community ideas on how they could reduce plastic.
The children have given presentations to many community organisations across the town and gained their support. They have also given a presentation to the Chamber for Business at a Breakfast asking them to remove three single use plastics or find sustainable alternatives. They have written to over 300 businesses. They visited businesses in the town centre with help from the town mayor and a local councillor, signing up 30 business in 2 hours. 65 businesses so far have agreed to remove three single use plastics or find three sustainable alternatives. 25 community groups and spaces have also signed up to the children's campaign which include Rotary, WI, Scouts, Girl Guides, local places of worship, Dorchester Lions and Youth Clubs.
The children have been active in getting the local community to recycle - printing cartridges, pens, biscuit wrappers, crisp packets, soap dispensers, baby pouches, and pet food pouches etc. This helps the environment and raised £1000 last year that went towards a bird hide.
The school has launched Boomerang Bag Dorchester. It got so popular across the county with other towns wanting to sign up that we had to change it to Boomerang Bag Dorset. The bags are made from donated fabric and are made at groups that are organised across the town weekly or can be made at home. The bags will help reduce the use of plastic bags across the community.
Amazing commitment and enthusiasm from some very young children who are leading the way in Dorchester!