Pupils from across Adur, Worthing and Arun came together for a day of environmental learning at the 11th Worthing and Adur eco summit on Tuesday (June 26).
Worthing High School hosted 325 eco-warriors from 27 schools with workshops, stalls and guest speakers discussing nature and the environment in line with their ‘Getting Back to Nature’ theme.
Some 30 organisations and educators were involved in the day organised by the E.Y.E Project, a group which brings schools together to learn about the importance of caring for the environment.
Clare Sutton, project manager of the E.Y.E Project, said: “It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm of young people and great to hear that schools and their pupils plan to make changes as a result of what they learned at the event.”
This year’s event was the biggest so far and was opened by the project’s founder, East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton. The high sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls, and Worthing town crier Bob Smytherman were also in attendance.
The young eco-warriors took part in activities including building and racing solar cars with a team from Worthing High School and electric cars with those from Worthing College. They flew kites with kitesurfer Lewis Crathern and created small-scale reptile refuges and ponds with representatives of the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Staff from the Weald and Downland Living Museum were in attendance to help pupils reconstruct the musuem’s award-winning gridshell building using natural materials, and representatives of the Marine Conservation Society explored local marine wildlife and habitats with pupils.
Southern Water staff were on hand to teach pupils about water filtering and a team from the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, which sponsored the day, gave a presentation about offshore wind farm construction and engaged pupils with small-scale wind turbines.
The event also provided the opportunity for schools from across the UK to get involved, through the Polli:Nation initiative – a UK-wide project which works with 260 schools to turn their grounds and local places into pollinator-friendly habitats. A group of Polli:Nation schools from Hampshire visited to offer a produce show, seed-sowing activities and a plant swap, which instantly attracted butterflies.
At the end of each eco summit, pupils use what they have learned to agree on a set of pledges around how to be more environmentally conscious in future.
This year, pupils pledged to ‘buy locally and try to buy produce that has less plastic packaging’, plant more plants for pollinators, not to use single-use bottles and to build small animal habitats in the garden.
The eco summit is held at a different school each year and Worthing High School headteacher Pan Panayiotou described it as an honour to hold the 11th meeting.
“I was in awe of how passionately our young learners spoke, regarding issues on the environment and how much they want to improve our world,” he said.
“The E.Y.E Project allows students from secondary and primary schools to tackle very challenging environmental issues, with a view that it will make a change in all our lives.
“We are already looking forward to the next summit.”
Next year’s event will be hosted by Worthing College.
The schools involved this year were Bohunt, Bramber Primary, Broadwater CE Primary, Chatsmore Catholic High, Davison CE High, Durrington High, English Martyrs Catholic Primary, Hawthorns Primary, Heene CE Primary, The Laurels Primary, Our Lady of Sion Senior School, Thomas A Becket Junior and Whytemead Primary, from Worthing; Ferring CE Primary School; Eastbrook Primary Academy in Southwick; Shoreham College and St Nicolas & St Mary CE Primary in Shoreham; Seaside Primary in Lancing; Sompting Village Primary; St Mary’s CE Primary in Climping; River Beach Primary, Littlehampton; Summerlea Community Primary, in Rustington, and others from Hampshire and Haywards Heath.’
For more information visit www.eyeproject.co.uk