Longniddry Primary pupils are urging their local community to ditch balloon releases in favour of the more eco-friendly bubbles.

Longniddry Primary School is a Silver Award Rights Respecting School. A Rights Respecting School not only ensures children’s rights are realised but also encourages young minds to become active and involved in school life and the wider world. The pupils at Longniddry Primary School are ensuring their voices are heard by raising awareness about plastic pollution and how it is currently destroying their local environment and wildlife.

BACKGROUND

Primary 4 pupils studied a topic called ‘One Planet, One Future’ as part of their ongoing class work. This focused on looking at animal habitats and how rubbish and plastic pollution is destroying them,  making their future uncertain. In addition to this, a Primary 3 pupil raised concerns after watching ‘Blue Planet’ and seeing how plastic pollution is killing sea life. During this time the Primary 4 teacher, Ms Hart, whilst out walking on her local beach in Canty Bay, North Berwick found a long piece of red ribbon which had clearly been attached to a balloon. It was clear this balloon had travelled over 150 miles from Middlesbrough as there was a message attached on a laminated tag. This got the children thinking about balloon releases and once they investigated this topic they soon realised that mass balloon releases were threatening our coastlines and wildlife.

THE CAMPAIGN

The children identified an area they would like to raise awareness about by leading a campaign in their local community and the rest of East Lothian. Ms Hart, Primary 4 class teacher said: “The children care greatly about their local environment and want to help raise awareness of the dangers of rubbish and plastic.” This campaign will also contribute greatly to the school achieving the Gold Rights Respecting Schools Award. 

The children soon found out that people use mass balloon releases when celebrating events or for remembering loved ones. The pupils at Longniddry Primary School have come up with alternative ways of marking special events to stop the latex and ribbon from these releases littering and endangering our environment. Nine-year-old, Terry Bartsch who is part of the campaign group, said: 

I think of balloon releases as litter bombs! They are causing death to our planet.

The pupils decided to celebrate their Silver Rights Respecting Award by having a mass bubble release to highlight the danger of releasing balloons. This was the beginning of the ‘Bubbles Beat Balloons’ campaign.

PROGRESS SO FAR 

The campaign is now well under way. The children have been involved in a number of activities. They have carried out a beach clean (pictured below with Roger Powell, East Lothian Countryside Ranger who supports their campaign) and a community clean up, with support from parents. A group of pupils attended Longniddry Community Council and shared their campaign with local people, councillors and businesses. Local paper, the East Lothian Courier has also highlighted their campaign to their readers in East Lothian.

Taking their campaign even further afield, Primary 4 have written to the primary school in Middlesbrough responsible for releasing the balloons found on Canty Bay in North Berwick. They agreed that balloon releases are bad for the environment and have assured the campaign team they will not be doing it again! The hope is that they will now join the campaign and help spread the word further.  

THE FUTURE OF THE CAMPAIGN

The pupils at Longniddry Primary School have many plans for the future of the campaign. 

They are planning to write to local councillors, MSPs and MPs to highlight their concerns in the hope they will help spread the message. The children will be visiting other schools throughout East Lothian to present their campaign, encouraging others to join and sign up to their ‘Bubbles Beat Balloons’ pledge. They also plan to contact local businesses and persuade them to not to release balloons when they are advertising or carrying out promotions.

It is important to stress that the children are not actually against balloons. Stephanie MacFadyen, the school’s depute head teacher, said: 

It is not that we are against balloons, we just want them to be disposed of properly and in a way that does not damage our environment.


BUBBLES BEATS BALLOONS
If local business or organisations would like to sign up to Longniddry Primary’s Bubbles Beat Balloons community pledge contact the campaign on
Twitter: longniddryps or www.edubuzz.org/longniddry/

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