A group of student environmental activists at Marshview Middle School have earned national honours for their work in trying to bring positive change to their school and their community.
The students, members of the school’s environment club ‘The Mighty Earth Warriors’, won the 2019 Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability, a prize handed out recently by the national Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) organization.
Marshview principal Heather Dixon said she is very proud of these students and their commitment to a better and sustainable future.
“I couldn’t be happier watching my students make a difference in the world,” she said. “It’s what every principal wants for their kids.”
The environment club stemmed from the school’s Project Engage program, an initiative started this year through a partnership with Mount Allison University students and the Office of Experiential Learning.
“Our Engage program that we started this past school year has allowed students to shine in all areas,” said Dixon. “It has unlocked passions and has given students the freedom they needed to succeed in areas that were important and relevant to them.”
The members of the environment club this year focused on tackling the issue of single-use plastics. They started off by researching the use and impact of single-use plastic in their community. They surveyed local restaurants, visited their local waste management facility and educated themselves on sustainable alternatives.
The students then presented their findings to their school and community through a school-wide assembly and an article in the local newspaper. Then they took things a step further, presenting their ideas at a meeting with the mayor and town council and arranging a meeting with their school board. As a result, these Warriors not only implemented three-stream recycling in their own school, but they also convinced the school board to make all schools in the Sackville family of schools three-stream recyclers. They also got many local restaurants to switch to alternative packaging and convinced town officials to commit to a complete revision of its sustainability plan.
“I am so proud of the action they have taken to secure a better future for us all,” said Dixon. “They are so deserving of the accolades that have been raining in and are so humble about their successes.”
Dixon thanked university professor Michael Fox and student Londyn Irving, as well as Marsvhiew teacher Sharon Bordage, for their support with the Project Engage program this year.
The Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability was established by LSF in 2011 to honour Jack Layton’s passion for optimism and hope in creating a more sustainable future. Three awards are presented each year to schools that have implemented a community-based sustainability action project that demonstrates creative energy, responsible citizenship and innovative action. The winning project receives $500, and two runner-up schools each receive $250 towards their existing action project or to support a new one.