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Pupils Gather For Annual Environmental Youth Speak Competition

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A number of pupils from schools in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area have taken part in this year's Environmental Youth Speak Competition.

The event, which took place in Newcastle Community Cinema on Wednesday 29 March, saw nine talented pupils from local schools present environmentally themed speeches to a panel of judges, highlighting the urgency of sustainability issues and the role of young people in creating a better future.

The annual competition, organised by the Council's sustainability team, aims to encourage debate on sustainability issues and empower the next generation to become environmental leaders.

The response was overwhelming, with thirty-six primary and eight secondary school pupils registering to take part. The top six primary school pupils and three secondary pupils were then selected to perform their speeches in person at the final.

The judges were very impressed by how thought-provoking and informative the speeches were with each participant demonstrating a deep understanding of the importance of their topic. Primary school pupils spoke on the topic 'By 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Let’s stop marine plastic pollution before it's too late', while secondary school students were asked to speak on 'How can living sustainably help to ease the cost-of-living crisis'.

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The judges chose Eva McKeown from St Moninna's Primary School, Cloughogue, as this year's junior winner and Eamonn Murray from St Patrick's Grammar School, Downpatrick as the senior winner.

Runners-up in the junior section were Éilis Donnelly from Annsborough Integrated Primary School and Ramona Hamill-Davision from Sacred Heart Primary School, Dundrum. Runners up in the senior section were Emma Welch from Blackwater Integrated College, Downpatrick and Hannah Murney from St Louis Grammar School, Kilkeel.

Highly commended in the junior section were Adhrán McCartney, St Bronagh's Primary School, Rostrevor; James McMorrow, Holy Cross Primary School, Atticall and Louisa Gribben, St Paul's Primary School, Cabra.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage, who attended the final, said: "The Environmental Youth Speak competition continues to be a popular annual event providing young people with the chance to debate on environmental and sustainability issues. I am delighted that this year we have been able to hold the competition once again as an 'in person' final. It has been fascinating to listen to the views that each of the students presented on the important topics of 'single use plastic' and 'how living more sustainably can help ease the cost-of-living crisis'. All the speeches were very well researched and delivered with confidence demonstrating a high level of knowledge on the topics.

"It is vital that we continue to encourage and support our young people's interest in sustainability issues. I am delighted to see such a high level of engagement and commitment to protecting our environment from all the schools that entered the competition. Well done to everyone."

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