Belfast Telegraph

Wave of enthusiasm for teenagers’ seaside sweep

By Linda Stewart

Teenagers living in one of Co Down’s most popular seaside resorts have spruced up the village for the summer.

Members of Millisle Youth Forum found everything from tyres and drinks containers to takeaway packaging and scores of the small blue pens that are often used in bookmakers.

It was the third in a series of four clean-ups that they are carrying out as part of our Big Spring Clean campaign, a joint venture with Tidy Northern Ireland and the DoE’s Rethink Waste aimed at inspiring tens of thousands of people to tackle the litter blighting their area.

On a previous clean-up the group found 14 large glass alcohol bottles strewn along the hedgerow of Moss Road leading into Millisle. They also found it was difficult to keep the beach clean as many dog owners fail to clean up after their pets — a worrying trend as Millisle is a popular seaside resort. Ards Borough Council provided the group with litter-pickers, gloves and bags.

The group was set up in September 2009 and since then the management and leadership team have worked with the young people of Millisle to support them in making their contribution to improving the overall environment of the village. This has centred not only on beach clean-ups, but also improving the appearance of the village as a whole and integrating and participating in local life.

The group was initially set up to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour in the village, and has been extremely successful.

Around 50 young people have now registered with the forum, and on average between 20 and 25 young people meet every Tuesday night.

Millisle Youth Forum won the Youth Group of the Year award in 2011 at the Coca-Cola Coast Care Awards held in Stormont.

Forum members Louise McKeown and Samuel Monoghan said: “It's good to keep our streets clean. It makes people happy.”

Youth leader Jo Scott said: “The young people of Millisle Youth Forum are committed to their village and being part of the Big Spring Clean each year is their way of giving something back to their community.

“This year we decided to go bigger by making this an ongoing commitment throughout the month of April. Hopefully, by others seeing the actions of our young people in keeping our streets clean, it will make us remember to bin our litter.”

Tidy Northern Ireland campaign officer Patricia Magee said she was amazed at the young people’s boundless energy and enthusiasm in cleaning up the village and the beach.

“This group were raring to get stuck into the clean-up. Even though it was their third litter lift of the Big Spring Clean, they had their route planned and knew what spots to spruce up,” she said.

“These young people are the future of Millisle, so it is up to the parents, youth leaders and the general public to encourage this behaviour, help guide local youth and, most importantly, work together as a team.”

Roll of honour

The areas cleaned up so far this year:

  • Ram’s Island, Antrim
  • The Hollow, Belfast
  • Glendarragh River, Kesh
  • Crawfordsburn Country Park
  • Whitepark Bay, Ballycastle
  • Ballyronan Marina
  • St Anthony’s PS school grounds, Craigavon
  • Andrews Memorial PS school grounds, Comber
  • Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster day of action
  • Main Street, Grange, Newtownards
  • Groggan PS grounds and Glendale, Randalstown
  • Harpurs Hill and New Mills, Coleraine
  • Rathlin Island
  • Whitehead, Carrickfergus
  • Cloughey Beach, Ards Peninsula
  • Hart Memorial PS, Portadown
  • Whitehill and Bloomfield estates, Bangor
  • Glenullin, Coleraine
  • Carntogher, Maghera
  • Cookstown PS
  • Killard Point, Downe Breezemount estate, Bangor
  • Enagh Lough and Strathfoyle
  • St Conor’s PS, Omagh
  • Skelton’s Cut, Dromore
  • Ardstraw, Co Tyrone
  • Beechland estate, Lisburn
  • Ballycastle Forest
  • New Grosvenor Stadium, Lisburn
  • Recreation Grounds, shorefront, Whitehead
  • Randalstown
  • Earlview PS, Newtownabbey
  • Cootehill Road, Crawfordsburn
  • Pond Park Nursery School
  • Carrickfergus seafront
  • Rathcoole Diamond
  • Waterfoot Beach
  • Parkhall PS, Antrim
  • St Jude’s, Ravenhill Road
  • Comber

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