Sunderland MP Julie Elliott recently visited one of the region’s leading secondary schools to congratulate pupils on the progress they’ve made in becoming a more sustainable school.
St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, which is part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, has established a pupil-led wellbeing group that has developed environmental and health initiatives which make a real difference to the entire school community. A key objective was to become a plastic-free school which the group achieved and is now officially accredited for by Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation charity that works with communities to protect oceans, beaches and marine life.
Julie Elliott MP visited to see the wellbeing group in action, where pupils created a sculpture out of collected plastics and started work on their next big project, a community allotment. This will offer a place for local people to relax, enjoy being close to nature and give them the opportunity to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Julie Elliott, Labour MP for Sunderland Central, said: “It’s wonderful to see how much work young people in the region are doing to preserve and protect our planet and how passionate they are to create positive change.
“I’m so impressed with St Aidan’s pupils and how they’ve achieved a plastic-free school and implemented a wide range of other sustainable initiatives to create a more environmentally friendly school for everyone to enjoy.
“The allotment project is very exciting as not only is it eco-friendly, but it will also provide a good resource for encouraging better physical and mental health – I can’t wait to see the final result.”
Led by the wellbeing group, St Aidan’s has developed a number of initiatives to become more sustainable. This includes the creation of a clothes bank in school, wooden toys made from left over wood for a local baby bank and the removal of single-use plastics from its community.
Anna Armstrong, a teacher at St Aidan’s, said: “I’m so proud of our pupils and their hard work that’s enabled us to become a more sustainable school.
“Our pupils are very concerned about climate change, and they want to lead by example in demonstrating how we can live in a way that’s better for the environment.
“They have worked very hard in creating our plastic-free status and the accreditation means that we have successfully and permanently removed at least three single use plastics from our school community.
“Sustainability at St Aidan’s isn’t just about the wellbeing of the environment, it’s about the physical and mental health of people in our local community too.
“The wellbeing group is very focused on initiatives that promote better health. More than ever, people need green spaces such as our wonderful new allotment because these types of environments have a very positive impact on both physical and mental wellbeing.”