Nine-year-old shows leadership on litter

'Leader for a Day' Competition winner Dominic led the Council Leader and Chairman on a litterpick, along with his fellow pupils in Ruskington. They are all stood together as a group outdoors, with high vis vests and litter picking equipment, facing the camera and smiling. Some of them are holding litter sacks and litter pickers.
'Leader for a Day' Competition winner Dominic led the Council Leader and Chairman on a litterpick, along with his fellow pupils in Ruskington.

Nine-year-old Dominic Hunter showed his own style of community leadership by leading two of North Kesteven District Council’s most senior councillors on a litter pick in his village.

After expressing his deep concern for the environment through his ambitious manifesto for action if he was in charge of the District Council, Dominic was chosen as the overall winner, and winner for his Year 4 age group, in a primary school creative writing competition that asked children how they would make their communities an even better place to live if they were ‘Leader for the Day’.

As part of his prize, he was joined by real District Council Leader Cllr Richard Wright and Council Chairman at the time, Cllr Mike Clarke in carrying out a litter pick of Horseshoe Hollow in Ruskington with a group of fellow Winchelsea Primary School school council members.

Along the way he expressed his frustration at people dropping litter and being thoughtless about the impacts that their neglectful actions have on wildlife. He found a discarded drinks can as old as him and broken bottles and plastic bags degrading in the Beck.

“If we don’t pick rubbish up, eventually the world will become a massive bin, covered in litter and it will be destroyed,” he said. ”Some people really don’t care about their world and they just drop litter everywhere. It’s not good for the environment as it kills lots of animals, and from the rivers it goes into the sea and kills lots of sea animals.

“It would be so much easier for people to just put their rubbish in the bin or take it home and they’d have a happier life with no litter on the floor.”

Council Leader Cllr Richard Wright complimented Dominic and his classmates’ commitment for cleaning up their community. “It’s really great to see the students enthusiastically picking up litter and to realise that litter is for all of us to sort out and not just something that somebody from the council is responsible for. It would be great if other pupils and schools can get involved and take lead. Let’s all make North Kesteven a litter-free District,” he said.

Having reviewed all of the competition entries and been impressed by the young people’s understanding and interest in council roles and responsibilities and the scale of opportunities they outlined, Cllr Wright said: “There was wide enthusiasm for local leisure centres, more green spaces and ways to bring people together, all promoting the idea of healthy communities. 

“They all seemed to identify environmental concern, climate action, provision of quality sports and leisure facilities, jobs creation and more affordable housing with North Kesteven; knowing that this is all part of local community leadership and the hallmarks of strong flourishing communities.”

Some of the ideas expressed were so good that, with permission, they had been shared with relevant parish councils to see what the hot topics were for young people in their communities. And in a number of cases – particularly those relating to increased pollinators, tree planting and biodiversity – some are already being fed into future projects in North Kesteven. 

Cllr Clarke said that as well as expressing ‘some really great ideas about access and engagement within the community, and considering various environmental aspects such as beehives, planting flowers and litter-picking’, the judging panel were particularly impressed at Dominic’s reasoning behind all his ideas, and the value he placed on the importance of community.

The litter pick was carried out during the Keep Britain Tidy campaign ‘The Great British Spring clean’ and saw a significant haul of plastic and glad bottles, cans, crisp and sweet packets and other general litter on the route from the school to the park and back.

Winchelsea teacher and curriculum lead Daniel Gravil said that after regular litter picks had dropped off in recent years, ‘having a litter pick with members of NKDC has inspired the school council to think again about doing this as a regular activity.’

“The school council thought that it was fantastic that the councillors took time out to come and visit them, particularly knowing how busy they can be,” he said.

Winchelsea has an established programme of engagement in citizenship and democracy, with trips to Lincoln Guildhall and Westminster to see how local and national government performs.

“As a school we've made a significant push to immerse our curriculum with British values and contact with local democratic institutions like North Kesteven District Council is extremely helpful in fulfilling this aim. It helps to enrich our curriculum and provide brilliant experiences for our pupils.”

Winchelsea pupils were well-represented in the competition with most of the winners and runners up across the age groups. 

This autumn Key Stage 2 children will be invited to comment on their vision of life in 50 year's time, in keeping with the Council’s 50th anniversary year. 

You can watch a video here of Dominic and his fellow pupils leading the litter pick.

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