The award-winning characters might look fun and lively but their young creators hope the community will take their environmental message seriously.
A team of 16 pupils from Humpybong State School created three characters and a ‘Rubbish Rangers’ mascot for their entry in Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Regional Recycler Awards.
They won the competition and the characters will be used to help Council create a waste mascot to be revealed next year.
The group included six pupils from Year 3, one from Year 4, five from Year 5 and four from Year 6 who are all from Humpybong State School’s environmental committee.
Parent Amy Wilkins has been working with pupils on the environmental committee.
She says the idea to take part in the competition was hatched during a ‘cash for cans’ activity. The Year 3 children decided a turtle, koala and fruit bat would be ideal mascots and were able to articulate why they were animals the local community could identify with.
The team also felt it was important that the Rubbish Ranger could be viewed as a boy or girl reflecting the school’s values regarding inclusivity.
They worked on the project for one hour per week for five weeks but would ponder their ideas in between workshop sessions.
The Year 6 pupils were given creative licence to write the characters’ back stories and the Year 5s put the award-winning video together featuring Aidan Ito from Year 4.
“Our Year 5s are our Eco Marine Ambassadors, so it was nice to see them support the Year 4s and Year 3s because they’re the next in line (to be part of the program),” Amy explains.
She says they are all part of wrapper-free Wednesday and other recycling initiatives which result in 260 juice boxes and more than 65 cans collected at the school each week.
“It’s a big collaboration, the environmental stuff, it’s all inclusive and anyone can be involved,” Amy says.
Initiatives involve school staff, the P&C and broader community.
“It’s setting the example and role models for the children,” Deputy Principal Greg Lowcock says.
The school has won $2500 to put towards a sustainability project and a trophy made from repurposed metal and timber.
“The money will help us to be able to improve the recycling area further. It would have taken six months of collecting cans to even get close to getting enough,” Amy says.
The school will also use it to buy more environmental education resources and native plants to grow bush tucker in the ‘Grandpa’s Garden’ area at the school.
“The environment is very important to them and they really care, with all the talk of climate change. It’s really important for them to have a clean environment and when they go into the ocean, they know it’s healthy,” she says.
“They know it starts with people in parks and it (rubbish) ends up in gutters and goes into these areas. They want to inspire other children. They have so much pride in what they do.”
Mr Lowcock says the designs appealed to Council and People’s Choice voters because they were creatures that lived in the region and people could identify with them.
Moreton Bay Region Mayor Peter Flannery says he was impressed by the quality of the entrants.
“We had four wonderful entrants who all displayed a great understanding for responsible waste disposal and much more creativity than I could ever possess,” he says.
“Although there could only be one winner, the other three schools and early learning centres all received Highly Commended Awards and $500 to help implement more waste initiatives.”
Highly commended awards of $500 were won by Mother Duck Kallangur Kindergarten, Creative Kids Clontarf Outside School Hours Care and Northpine Christian College Childcare.
Teri the Turtle hates single-use plastics after a bad experience in the Great Pacific Ocean that almost ended her life. She is spreading the word that we need to reduce the amount of plastic in the sea.
Frankie the Fruit Bat became a global composter after her grandma died from eating a plastic bag.
Kaylee the Koala is leading the charge against landfill after discovering the foul-smelling tip on a visit from the outback to the city.