A core part of the curriculum for senior students in St. Bernadette’s Special School in Letterkenny is practical work placement.
However, with Covid-19 restrictions students and teachers had to look for other hands-on experiences to help the students complete the module and learn valuable and practical insights into the working industry, and that’s where the idea of a community recycling service was born.
Class teacher, Mr Terence Shiels, explains that the students came up with an innovative idea of a local recycling service after some quick brainstorming:
“Each year our senior cycle students take part in practical work experience, but the placements were cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
“However, we still wanted them to get the opportunity to learn some practical insights, so we had a chat about some ideas.
“It wasn’t long before the students came up with the idea of doing a local recycling service where they would visit local homes to collect recycling and take it to the centre for a small fee.”
In operation since November 2020, the recycling service from St. Bernadette’s Special School drops containers to customers in local estates on Mondays which is then collected on Tuesdays. The students charged €2 for small electrical items and €2 for all glass and tin items which were then taken to the recycling centre by the class.
Senior students at St. Bernadette’s Special School typed up letters and designed posters to get their mini enterprise off the ground, which they dropped to local estates to help spread the word.
“As well as doing their own marketing campaign to get the service up and running, the students also bought containers which were used to place items in for collection,” Mr Shiels added.
“People interested in using the service contacted the students using the contact number on the poster.
“The recycling service was of great benefit to the local community as well as our students as the young adults got to build their confidence and communication skills by engaging with locals through weekly calls, texts and socially distant meetings during collection times.
“The class split the profits equally among themselves and we’d like to thank everyone in the community who supported the initiative.”
Adding to that, school principal John Haran said: “Congratulations to all the senior students who got the pilot recycling initiative up and running.
“Not only did this initiative give the students practical insights into the working world, but also presented an opportunity to learn about environmental awareness and how to care for our environment for future generations.
“The students also learned about business, how to charge for a service and how to divide the profits between the directors. Well done!”.
The St. Bernadette’s Special School recycling centre project has finished for the school year but will be starting again in September for eager students.
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