They call themselves the Seven Squad.
And they’re mission is an important one: to share what they’ve learned about cleaning up the oceans, and keeping waters that are still clean in a pristine state. The Seven Squad is made up of Marlene Roseboom’s and Pauline Neels’ Grade 7 students at Timothy Christian School. They waded into the topic of marine plastic pollution as part of an online contest, but also as an ongoing class project.
They began their planning last fall, beginning in earnest with a shoreline cleanup at Stanley Park in Vancouver. They made the trip into the city on Oct. 24, and collected 27 kg of garbage and 1,565 cigarette butts. From there, they invited Chilliwack city councillor and outdoor enthusiast Sam Waddington into their classroom.
He gave them some tips on meeting with people, and how to communicate a need, and they set off into the community in small groups so they could take what they’d learned and make a larger impact. Their main message is to reduce plastic in the first place, so less can end up in oceans. They’ve shared that message online, on a contest platform set up by Parks Canada. If they win, the class will embark on a five-day adventure to a National Park, to learn even more about conservation and preservation.
But locally, they’ve already made an impact.
On Community Action Day, Dec. 11, one of the small breakout groups visited the school’s neighbouring farmers to talk about alternatives to wrapping bales in plastic. Another group visited with MLA Laurie Throness to ask him to consider expanding the EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) recycling program to include large appliances. Yet another group went to a site along the Fraser River, three kilometres from their school, to erect a sign to remind people not to leave garbage at the river, while still others visited local restaurant owners to discuss the impact of Styrofoam containers.
They took pictures all along the way, and have created a photo essay that viewers can visit online and vote between now and March 21. In their presentation, they note their park to protect would be the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site (formerly known Queen Charlotte Islands).
But if they win, they’ll be hopping a plane to Ottawa, Ont. for a four night, five day trip to Parks Canada places around that province. They will island hop through crystal blue waters at Thousand Islands National Park, and enlist as a member of the Royal artillery at Fort Wellington National Historic Site, even learning how to fire a cannon. The class will also be guests at Laurier House National Historic Site, former home to two Canadian Prime Ministers, before exploring the nation’s capital.
To vote for the school and help them take “Canada’s Coolest School Trip” visit contest.myparkspass.ca and click on their essay, titled Marine Plastic Pollution: The Seven Squad Investigates and Acts to Preserve the Environment.