Northdown Primary pupils highlight sea pollution with filmed protest which will be screened at Turner Contemporary

Pupils marched to the Southern Water pumping station Photo Steven Collis

Year 5 pupils at Northdown Primary School have held a protest over the pollution of our seas which has been filmed and will be screened at Turner Contemporary.

Forty youngsters marched with banners and sea creature sculptures made of recycled plastic along Palm Bay to the Margate wastewater pumping station to air their concerns over plastic and sewage dumped into the sea.

Photo Steven Collis

The action followed a 12 week school project with youth charity Arts Education Exchange, with the children researching, writing, discussing and making art about the devastating impacts of plastic and sea pollution.

Youngsters have also written letters to Asda and Coca-Cola about their project and constructed sea creatures out of recycled plastics which were animated using iPads, but the group decided it wasn’t enough.

Photo Steven Collis

The pupils say they discovered that 8 million tonnes of plastic gets dumped into the oceans every year, making enough dumped materials to stretch to the moon and back three times!

Initially the young ‘artivists’ were going to carry out a beach clean but this was cancelled due to a wastewater release which put the beach below high tide off limits, prompting the protest from the disappointed youngsters.

Photo Steven Collis

So, on the morning on November 17 the children assembled in the reception of their school, wrapped up against the wind and, with banners and plastic sea creatures on sticks held high, they stomped to the sea and began their march towards the water pumping station at Botany Bay chanting: “Plastic pollution is in our oceans, there’s no cure or potion, stop using plastic, it is drastic.”

Photo Steven Collis

Arts Education Exchange director/founder Ollie Briggs said: “Children are the future and I get the feeling we’ll be ok. If education is about consciousness, agency and community action then I’m happy to report that these year 5 pupils of Northdown Primary School are getting theirs.

Photo Steven Collis

“Huge thanks to the fantastic teachers Tammy Provost-Lines, Sinead Ford  and Sasha Bryant for inviting us to be part of this special occasion.”

Photo Steven Collis

Year 5 teacher and writing lead Tammy said she contacted Arts Ed Exchange to get involved with the children on their topic of plastic pollution with the question ‘will our oceans ever recover?’

Photo Steven Collis

She added: “We were meant to do a beach clean to collect plastics for our project with them at Turner Contemporary but it was cancelled because of sewage in the sea. The children were really disappointed and so took it a little bit further so instead of just being a structure created for Turner Contemporary it turned into a protest.”

Photo Steven Collis

The event was documented by local filmmaker and artist Nathan Ryan-Jones and will be screened at Turner Contemporary on December 2 alongside the banners and sculptures made by the children.

Photo Steven Collis

It was also photographed by Ramsgate’s Steven Collis and was supported by Haeckels Director Dom Bridges and environmentalist and activist Daniel Webb of Everyday Plastic.

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