WITH three Green Flags already achieved, the pupils at Patrickswell national school are “striding” purposefully towards their target - a fourth flag for travel.
And they have made a good start on their two-year journey.
Green-Schools Travel is the fourth strand of the Green Schools’ programme and looks at how children come to school. The idea is to raise awareness of the environmental impact of travel by car, to try to reduce dependence on cars and look at other options.
One initiative the school has adopted is a Park and Stride Day when children walk at least part of the way to school. And they have initiated a poster and slogan competition around the issue. No final decision has been made, the school says, but “Patrick’s well because he walks to school” is a current contender.
A key feature of preparing for Park and Stride was to carry out a survey of the local area to look at issues and/or problems that walkers might encounter. The school has also introduced the idea of a walking bus between the school-building and the local church.
But in Patrickswell, it’s more of a walking-talking bus as it involves a “buddy-system” where older pupils are linked up with younger ones and use the journey to tell them stories.
Says Green-Schools Travel Officer Ellen O Sullivan: “This extra addition to the walking bus structure is a beautiful idea”.
Patrickswell has already earned three Green Flags for their work on litter and waste reduction, on energy and on water conservation – and even as they work on travel, they must maintain the levels achieved previously.
But for the pupils, Green Flag is not just a school chore.
“The green flag is cool! We help the school,the environment and ourselves and we have fun doing it,” says PatriceLynch, sixth class. And, explains Aisling Gorman from fifth class: “ The reason I love the green flag so much is because of all the interesting rhings we learn and have fun while we save the planet.”
Other pupils are just as enthusiastic. “I love the fun we have while hleping the enviornment and looking after the future generations,” enthuses Daniel Feasey, a sixth class pupil.
Sarah Gillane, from fifth class is also a positive supporter. “I love helping the school and the town,” she says. “As well as that, it’s fun.”
Principal Ciaran Crowe praises the young environmentalists saying: “All the teachers are delighted and proud of the effort and attitude of the pupils.They are very hard working and enthusiastic and a joy to work with. We look forward with confidence to a greener and better future.”