Balaclava schoolchildren learning to be tidy Kiwis

Bags of enthusiasm . . . Ready to go on another outing to collect rubbish in their adopted spot are Balaclava School pupils (from left) Nicole Lo (8), Liam Van Waard (8) and Libby McKerchar (7) and teacher Trish Palmer. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE


“Adopt a Spot” started as a small community clean-up project but has now been taken on by many schools in the region, including Balaclava School.

Balaclava School teacher Trish Palmer said the goal was to help the local community by encouraging children to pick up litter in their neighbourhood.

“It teaches them respect and their neighbours are very impressed with them as they have noticed the children even picking up litter as they walk to and from school,” she said.

“It is a safe way to educate children about being a tidy Kiwi and the response by them over the years has been wonderful.

“They now actively search the school grounds for rubbish.”

The Adopt a Spot programme started at the school after Keep Dunedin Beautiful visited the school with performers to educate children on picking up rubbish.

The school selected the area encompassing Mercer and Leary Sts and the stairs up to Netherby St.

“Now it rolls over each year and we have found the children look forward to being part of the programme.

“It is aimed at our middle syndicate of pupils in the years 3 and 4 classes – about 85 children take part.

“Three times a term they go out as a group foraging for rubbish around the neighbourhood, picking up rubbish and recyclables and also pulling out weeds.”

Keep Dunedin Beautiful provided the school with disposable gloves and bags for rubbish collection.

“There are lots of empty bottles and general household rubbish in our area, so if the weeds are too big or thorny or there is too much glass, we call the council and their contractors quickly come around and remove the offending plants,” Mrs Palmer said.

The school was an early adopter of the initiative and has won an award each year in the Keep Dunedin Beautiful annual awards.

Mrs Palmer said the scheme could be improved if there was more recycling of the plastic and paper rubbish they picked up.

“That will be a good next step for the Keep Dunedin Beautiful project,” she said.