Children up and down the country will ‘GO BLUE!’ to celebrate the world’s oceans in the Ecover Schools Blue Mile – a nationwide event which is also raising money for the Marine Conservation Society.
The idea is that for a day, schools will organise a project that will teach children about the sea, seashore and marine wildlife. The Ecover Schools Blue Mile has produced a range of resources and ideas for cross-curriculum activities – some in the classroom and some outdoors.
From painting and making sea creatures, to swimming and trying out a watersport, the activities are designed to educate young people about the importance of the oceans – and where possible, get them out into a natural environment.
GO BLUE! is on Friday 6 June and schools are being encouraged to register as soon as possible. If schools can’t do it on that day, they can they can still GO BLUE! at any time that suits. The Ecover Schools Blue Mile has teamed up with Canoe England, who have a number of kayak ergos available for loan by schools that would like to add a GO BLUE! element to indoor school sports.
BBC Springwatch presenter Maya Plass has jumped on board as Ambassador for the event: “There’s not a single minute that goes by when we are not all connected to the sea in one way or another – and the Ecover Schools Blue Mile is a great way of celebrating this connection,” said Maya.
“Swimming in my local estuary, I am reminded regularly of how lucky we are to have such a stunning blue place to play in. This is what GO BLUE! is all about – taking part and having fun and developing a love of nature.”
Emily Raven of the Ecover Schools Blue Mile said: “We are inviting schools around the country to take part. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s cross-curricular. We have a whole load of resources and we’re here to help schools who want to GO BLUE! for the day. It would be great if children can get out and spend some time on the seashore or take part in a school swimming day at their local pool, and we have some fun ideas for classroom-based activities, too.”
The 2014 Ecover Schools Blue Mile follows a hugely successful event in 2013, when schools took part in Plymouth University research into children’s attitudes to marine debris.
More than 150 children aged eight to 13 completed a short survey before and after the event, which sought to raise awareness of the problem of marine litter and the effects on the sea, wildlife and beaches. Preliminary results show that youngsters' views changed as they learnt more about the topics of marine litter and came to understand the impacts. Their awareness increased as they showed more concern about the issue after taking part in the event.
Children also perceived greater negative impacts of marine litter, and their knowledge improved regarding the possible sources of marine litter, the predominance of plastic, and the potential time it takes litter to degrade.
The children reported that since the event in June 2013, they are now encouraging family and friends to perform more litter-reducing behaviours, showing the importance of ‘pester power’ in encouraging change, according to the researchers.
As a result, this year’s Ecover Schools Blue Mile has a strong anti-pollution message. Schools are being encouraged to run a school-wide ban on plastic bags and bottles, provide plastic recycling points or be creative and decorate bags for life. Schools can also help the Marine Conservation Society by holding a beach clean.
Sue Ranger, who runs the MCS education programme said: “Our children can benefit from spending time at the seaside in so many ways: the excitement they feel when they race away from a wave or see a starfish for the first time, and the joy of long summer days at the beach with family and friends. These are all experiences which contribute to their health and wellbeing as well as their knowledge and interest in the world. We need to maximise opportunities for young people to get stuck in and get to know our seas.
“It’s also really important that young children get to see how special our shores and seas are, as the future of our oceans is in their hands.”
For more ideas and to register for GO BLUE!, visit www.thebluemile.org