Vancouver Island students recognized by province for trash cleanup challenge

Elena Sales and Kareem Hassib are part of a group of Vancouver Island high school students who organized a trash cleanup challenge on social media. || Photos submitted by Elena Sales.
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Students from Oceanside and Nanaimo teamed up to launch a social media campaign to encourage people to pick up garbage in their communities. 

Five high school students from Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo organized the Vancouver Island Eco Restoration trash cleanup challenge, which encourages people to pick up a pound of garbage, take a picture and tag it on Instagram or Facebook. 

Over 100 lbs of garbage has been cleaned up by participants so far, according to Elena Sales, one of the organizers from Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS).

The students were inspired to start the project when asked to come up with a way to help their community during the Rotary Club Youth Leadership Awards.

“We wanted to bring our idea to life, so we worked and strived to create an event that was doable and everybody could do that was simple,” said Lucy Morel, who goes to Wellington Secondary School in Nanaimo.

The students were surprised to receive a letter from George Heyman, B.C.’s minster of the environment and climate change strategy. “We didn’t even contact him, he contacted us,” said Kareem Hassib, who also attends Wellington Secondary. 

Everyone who enters will get a chance to win a gift basket full of prizes, such as gift cards and handmade goods, according to Hassib.

Not long after creating the challenge’s Facebook group, the students were contacted by Panago Pizza south Nanaimo about sponsoring the event — as a result, anyone who enters the contest will get two free personal pizzas. 

The last day of the challenge is April 21 and the draw will happen the next day.

Lucy Morel is one of the students who helped organize a trash cleanup challenge on social media. || Photo submitted by Elena Sales.

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