Youth Week at Lake Mac

With the support of Lake Macquarie Council, Tangaroa Blue’s Kirralee worked with 58 Year 9 and Year 10 students from Lake Macquarie High School on the 10th of April as part of Youth Week activities.

The workshop began with a fifteen-minute interactive presentation about marine debris, how it impacts our environment, possible solutions for these problems and how Tangaroa Blue Foundation and the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) strive to work with our network to tackle this issue. Students were asked to workshop how the issue of marine debris could be handled in their school environment and also within their daily lives. This included brainstorming where possible hotspots of rubbish on their school grounds might be, how the rubbish got there and how to propose solutions to their principal.

After the workshop, students chose a possible rubbish hotspot on the school grounds and worked together to conduct a clean-up activity following the AMDI data collection methodology. Students cleaned 4.8 kg of debris from more than 550 m² inside their school grounds. All debris was brought back to the classroom to be counted, sorted into categories, weighed and all data entered in the AMDI Database using the AMDI App by the students. In total 500 items were audited by the students. Students used the debris data they collected to identify the most common and/or problematic items collected. Working together, they brainstormed a Source Reduction Plan (SRP) for each item within the school to prevent these items from entering the environment in the first place. For example, one of the most common items collected was pens and the students suggested a pen-specific recycling program to be introduced within the school.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation empowered students to select and clean-up a site on their school grounds, fostering a sense of belonging to nature and community while addressing marine debris. Collaborative brainstorming activities further enhanced peer engagement and a shared sense of belonging among students.

This Youth Week grant allowed students to build a connection with Tangaroa Blue Foundation giving them a tangible way to protect the environment. Students who were interested in volunteering with Tangaroa Blue were encouraged to register on our website, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on social media to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Finally, the workshop built the students’ capacity to continue running their own clean-up events using the AMDI methodology and AMDI App to encourage them to continue to care for their local environment. Students were very engaged about the environment and proposed forming a Youth Environment advisory in the school so that environmental issues such as marine debris could be further addressed.

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