With school holidays and Love Parks Week round the corner, it’s a great opportunity to give young people the tools and awareness to love where they live and look after their local communities. Taking place between 23 July and 1 August, Love Parks Week, organised by Keep Britain Tidy, encourages everyone to get out and enjoy their favourite park and, most importantly, help protect them for future generations.
Parks bring a lot of value to us all. Evidence from The Parks for People report shows that access to and use of green spaces and parks:
1 – Enhances physical health, mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.
2 – Creates important opportunities to bring people together and reduce isolation.
3 – Provides opportunities for community engagement.
4 – Enables people to connect with nature, which in turn brings benefits in terms of wellbeing.
Our local parks have played an even more important role during the COVID-19 pandemic as a little slice of solace and a space to go for our daily exercise. However, more and more children are becoming aware of issues effecting the environment, such as littering, which in turn could damage the local green spaces we love so much.
‘Eco-anxiety’ is affecting increasing numbers of young people, who especially want to help but can feel overwhelmed with where to start. Education can be a really powerful tool to empower young people to take action in ways that feel impactful. For example, understanding why, when and how not to litter and fun activities such as group litter picks.
That’s why we think it’s hugely important to inspire and educate students on how they can use individual actions to protect our parks and green spaces – and of course help ease ‘eco-anxiety’. Below we’ve shared some stimulating questions to help teachers start these conversations:
1 – Ask students questions that remind them why parks are important to them (what’s their favourite place in their local area and why is it important? Can they think of ways to improve it?)
2 – Research the estimated cost that is spent on cleaning up litter in your local area. For example, in Newcastle approximately £4 million pounds a year is spent on cleaning streets and local communal areas. Can students guess how much is spent in their local area every year on cleaning up litter? Does the answer surprise them?
3 – Discuss with the class that if everyone stopped dropping litter there would be more money to spend on improving the local community. Can they think of other parts of the community where the money would be better spent?
4 – Get pupils to talk about their favourite places in the local area and explain what they like about it. Is there somewhere that they don’t like or that is dirty? How could these areas be improved? Pupils can then choose one locality that they would like to see improved by people taking responsibility for their area and keeping it clean.
For more lesson plan ideas and teaching tips for environment and litter topics, head to our BinIt! website.
If you haven’t signed up to the free Bin It! Roadshow yet, go ahead and register here to bring our award winning performance to your school.
There are also plenty of ways for your students to get involved in Love Parks Week this year. Why not check out the #LoveParks hashtag on social media to see if your local authority is putting on any events in parks. We hope people across the UK get to enjoy themselves and flourish in the green spaces they love this summer, while remembering to bin their waste!