Russell High pupils win prize for action against litter

2013-09-10 00:00

SITUATED on the busy corner of Peter Kerchhoff and Hoosen Haffejee streets, Russell High School is on the doorstep of the city and its litter problem.

A dedicated team of pupils has decided to be proactive about tackling litter and their dedication has paid off.

They are through to the finals of the Youth Citizens Action Programme (YCAP) after winning the KZN finals last week.

The team, under the leadership of Grade 10 pupils Thando Ngubane and Simphiwe Ntuli, decided that for their entry into the Youth Citizens Action Programme they would choose an issue where they felt they could realistically make a difference.

Simphiwe said: “We often spoke about the litter around the school and we said how bad it was, but the pupils were not initially motivated to change anything.

“Our team decided to be proactive and talk to the girls, and make them aware of how the litter was impacting on the school and our health.”

Thando added: “We held an inter-grade competition to see who could keep the school the cleanest and we approached local nurseries for seeds and plants so we can start to beautify our area.”

The team took it to the next level and began to talk to the hawkers who sold their goods on the pavement, asking them to please clean up after themselves.

They also approached neighbours and businesses on the block, and appealed to them to help them achieve a litter-free zone. The team also go around cleaning up the school and its surroundings daily. They wear their yellow gloves and carry around bin bags and clean up all the rubbish that floats onto the pavement.

Life orientation teacher Glynnis Podmore, who has helped the team prepare for the YCAP challenge, said she was very proud of their determination.

“The YCAP programme is designed in a way to make the pupils think for themselves of ways they can make a difference to their community or their surroundings. It is very practical and it is empowering, as they will be able to take these skills they have learned and apply them to solving other situations later in their lives.”

The team have built relationships with interested people in the community and they are determined to make a difference to the school, and the city block. They staged a silent anti-litter protest along the street and their bold slogans attracted a lot of interest and support.

Russell High spokesperson Moira Potter said: “One person saw what was happening at the school and he saw the girls cleaning up the pavements and their protest and the next day they came to offer a R1 000 donation towards the effort.”

They still have to find the culprit who weekly dumps his rotten fruit and vegetables on the block, as this is an ongoing problem. But the environment has improved substantially.

The school has received letters of thanks from members of the community, who appreciate their efforts. The Russell High pupils have invited the municipality to help them with their litter-free campaign.

The team will go to Cape Town to the YCAP finals on September 28. If they win, they will receive R25 000 to help them achieve their goal.

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