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20 June 2019
By Colin MacGillivray
Stawell Secondary College students are taking the lead in their community through self and school-initiated projects.
College teacher Heidi Lang said several of the school’s students had taken proactive steps to reduce the amount of waste they produced and volunteered their time for charity and aged care organisations in the town.
A Stawell Secondary College Waste Warriors program was initiated by a group of students concerned about the environment.
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Ms Lang said the students had volunteered their time to clean the school and were exploring possibilities such as a vegetable garden and compost system.
Student Charli Peters, who helped instigate the program, said she and other likeminded students were concerned about the state of the environment and wanted to make a difference.
“There were a few of us who realised we all had the same opinions about how the environment is being impacted in this day and age,” she said.
“We realised we wanted to do something about it.”
Charli said the group hoped it could inspire similar changes at other schools.
“We started off posting a lot of things on our private Instagram and Facebook accounts, sharing it and seeing if people would become more aware of it,” she said.
“I wrote a letter to our principal Mr Lopez seeing if there were things we could change in our school.
“I knew it wasn’t going to necessarily change the whole world, but I thought it could maybe impact other schools and see if they could follow our lead.
“We created nude food Fridays, which was very successful – a lot of students ditched plastic wrapping and brought containers. We’ve also started making posters to put around the school.
“We’re going to start a new program with our rubbish bins and have Visy recycling bins. We want to have more recycling and less single-use plastic.
“I’d say people are jumping on board pretty well.”
Charli said students involved with the program were still coming up with new ideas.
“A few of us wanted to get chickens and worms for composting,” she said.
“We want to waste less power by making sure light switches are turned off if we don’t need them. We’re just trying to do our part and make sure we’re not contributing to the problem. We’re making our school a better place and trying to be more environmentally friendly.
“It started with four of us and now there is a big group of people putting in ideas.”
Ms Lang said some year 10 students have also taken on volunteering roles at organisations such as the Salvation Army op shop, St Patrick’s Parish shop, Eventide Homes and Macpherson Smith Residential Care.
Student Sasha Inglis said she found the experience of volunteering rewarding.
“We’re doing a little bit to help out our community and give back to them,” she said.
“I’ve been going to Macpherson Smith, and I think it has helped with my confidence and being able to talk to people in the community more. I think it shows we are capable of doing community work and handling leadership roles.”
Sasha said it felt nice to have a positive impact on people’s lives through volunteering.
“I get to know the clients and people there and form a bond with them,” she said.
“I reckon they appreciate the visits. When we go you always see them brighten up and feel a bit more happy because they’ve got visitors.”