Local schoolchildren who took part in this year’s Environmental Youth Speak competition held at Banbridge District Council Civic Building on Tuesday March 4 had plenty to say about important environmental issues.
The competition, which was organised by Banbridge District Council on behalf of the Southern Waste Management Partnership (SWAMP), aims to get primary and secondary school pupils to think carefully about the importance of environmental issues.
21 young people representing schools from across the district each took to the podium in the Council Chamber to deliver a presentation on several environmental themes. The Junior section, which consisted of Primary 6 and 7 pupils spoke on the topic ‘If I was principal this is how I would reduce waste in our school’, while the Senior section presented ‘How our school can become more sustainable’.
After hearing all presentations the judging panel had the extremely difficult task of choosing just one winner from each section. After careful consideration the winners were announced as Kate Cunningham from St Colmans Primary School Dromore who was crowned ‘Banbridge Junior Environmental Youth Speak Champion 2014’ and Aoife Diamond from New Bridge Integrated School was crowned ‘Banbridge Senior Environmental Youth Speak champion 2014’.
Both Kate and Aoife will now represent Banbridge District at regional level by competing with the winners from seven other council areas within the Southern Area at the regional finals which will take place on Tuesday 1 April 2014 in Craigavon Civic Centre. Following the announcement of the regional winners the overall Northern Ireland Youth Speak Champion will be named.
Banbridge District Council Environmental Education Officer, Tracy Fitzpatrick, who organised the competition, said: “This is the tenth year that we have run the competition and I am delighted with the enthusiasm of the pupils who competed and the quality of their presentations. Every pupil did themselves and their school proud and with such an exceptionally high standard it was a very difficult task to choose the overall winners.
“All pupils who took part in the competition showed a real talent for public speaking and demonstrated a very good understanding of environmental issues,” she continued. “This competition has great educational value as it teaches young people how to express themselves on a particular subject as well as teaching them about the importance of protecting the environment.
“I would like to wish both Kate and Aoife every success with the regional finals and am sure they will be excellent environmental ambassadors for Banbridge District.”