Pupils at Hope Wood Academy in County Durham explain why they made a difference to the issue of beach litter

We were all very keen to get involved in a project right from the start. We all felt very passionate about a range of issues we were concerned about so had lots of debates about which issue we wanted to focus on. Eventually, it came down to a decision between homelessness and beach litter.

Beach litter was the issue closest to our hearts in the end as our school is situated next to the beach and we are heavily involved in recycling and environmental issues in school already as we are a Rights Respecting School.

To start our project, we had a visit from Rio – an environmental development officer – who came to talk to us about litter, pollution, the environment and things we can do to help. It was a very interesting session and we ended up making a superb recycled plastic bottle chandelier with him at the end of the day!

We then did a lot of research into the problem of litter ending up on the beach and we all made our own powerpoint presentation about our concerns with beach litter to show other students around the school. We then decided to actually tackle the problem with some action and arranged to go on a beach litter pick.

We organised our tools and also decided where we wanted to go to have the most impact. We spent the whole day clearing up the coastline and put in our best efforts! Even though the weather was not good we got our waterproofs on and carried on with making a difference.

"It was really rainy but we all did it" Pupil, aged 9

Finally, we created our presentation and picture show for the Durham Celebration Event to show what we'd done to other schools. We felt so strongly about our issue that we made sure we spoke to children from other schools during the breaks as well to explain why, if they visited the beach, they must take any litter home with them if they couldn't find a bin.

"It's just so important. You must look after the environment." Pupil, aged 11

The Make a Difference Challenge has had a really positive impact on us and our school so we hope to be involved again.

Suggested next steps: