Third-class students from Our Lady Queen of the Apostles National School in Clondalkin, Dublin, have been honoured by humanitarian aid agency, GOAL, for demonstrating their contribution and commitment to helping achieve the Global Goals. The pupils were  named as joint winners in the GOAL Changemakers Competition for highlighting the issue of food waste and encouraging  food suppliers to their school to use biodegradable packaging. The competition invited primary school students all over Ireland to share their actions for global change. Inspired by Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai’s story of the hummingbird to “do the best that I can”, the children decided to focus on Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production for their Changemakers entry.

Shocked by the amount of food packaging and food waster discarded daily in their school they lobbied their school food suppliers to provide reusable utensils and to change to biodegradable packaging. The pupils also urged their school to buy quality Irish products and to continue their support of Fairtrade. The students have vowed to continue their campaign for biodegradable packaging on their lunches and to encourage the use of quality Irish food so that their actions will impact on people in the Global South. The students composed two songs about their desire to not use plastic at school and a second one which they sang about changes we can all make to be more conscious of our consumption and damage to the environment.

Third class teacher, Paula Frances Galvin said: “The children have been motivated on this topic for a long time and it is fantastic that their efforts have been recognised by a global organisation like GOAL. The children strive to live up to Mahatma Ghandi’s quote ‘Be the change you want in the world’ and their commitment is admirable to all ages.”

The judging panel, comprised of Newstalk presenter Jonathon McCrea, children’s author Sarah Webb, activist and founder of Flossie and the Beach Cleaners, Flossie Donnelly, and GOAL deputy-CEO Mary Van Lieshout, were blown away by the quality of the entries. Jonathan McCrea said: “It was great to see such a variety of entries and innovative ideas from young people committed to helping achieve Global Goals. The high quality of entries made judging difficult, and it is clear we have some amazing changemakers among our young people.” GOAL Deputy CEO, Mary Van Lieshout, said: “The judges were in awe of how children are making a difference at home and in their schools every day. Young people are the future and it is imperative that they believe in and promote a sustainable, fair future. We must equip them with tools to make that happen. We want a planet earth that’s sustainable and here for future generations and it is inspiring to see our young people taking the lead on this.”

The children were overjoyed to come out on top of all the school who entered: “We are so grateful that GOAL liked our project, we worked so hard but enjoyed it so much! We were like the hummingbird from the story and we did the best that we could.”

For more information https://www.goalglobal.org/changemakers/