Pupils scoop awards in eco-villains competition

Schoolchildren across Northern Ireland have designed a sinister gang of five eco-villains in a Housing Executive energy awareness competition.

A total of 1,700 children took part with winners coming from Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Ballygawley.

The 2022 competition was organised by the Housing Executive in partnership with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools NI and was open to primary, post primary and special education schools.

Primary 3 to Year 9 pupils were asked to draw a picture or write a short story describing their villain and their superpowers to help highlight issues such as energy efficiency in the home and school, renewable energy and climate change.

As part of the prize, the five winning designs were brought to life by a local illustrator. The winners received a new eco laptop plus £500 for their school. Five runners-up also won a Fire Tablet.

Key topics highlighted in the designs were energy efficiency, water, renewable energy versus fossil fuels, climate change and global perspectives.  

Mary Kate, from St Colums Primary School, Portstewart, won the energy efficiency category.  Her devious eco-villain can make oil spills appear simply by clicking his fingers. A press of his necklace and you become a greenhouse gas. He can float, fly or turn into a car so he can emit more emissions, and his footprints are made from coal – a literal carbon footprint.

Lauren, P5, from St Mary’s PS, Altinure, scooped the water category. Her Ice Villain is an eco-destroyer whose mission is to steal all the ice in the world to make the climate change

Natalie, Year 8, from Thornhill College, Derry/L’derry, topped the renewables vs fossil fuels section. Her vicious villain pollutes rivers beaches parks and forests and creates insects that kill vegetation.

Aoife, P7, from Loughview PS, Belfast, won the climate action category. She drew a villain with tons of oil flow from her head, which forms oil slicks and damages vegetation.

Alise, from St Ciaran’s, Ballygawley, scooped the prize for global perspectives. Alise created a villain who loves to eat meat. He’s a butcher and can change vegetables to meat and releases methane, CO2 and nitrous oxide from his pores

Former Housing Executive Chair Professor Peter Roberts, one of the competition judges, said: “The eco-villain competition is part of the Northern Ireland Schools Energy Efficiency Programme.

“In 2021 we asked pupils to design five eco-heroes and the results were fantastic. For 2022, we thought we would turn the tables and ask our budding young eco-warriors to create a villain instead.

“We were very impressed with the standard of entries and the amazing imaginations of those who took part.

“Most young people care deeply about environmental issues and want to make a positive change in the environment around them. This competition provides an ideal way to foster their awareness of these hugely important matters.

“The real reward is that the participants can help to shape the future world that they will inhabit.”

Charlene McKeown, Environmental Education Manager, Eco-SchooIs NI, said: “We are delighted to have the Housing Executive as our Energy Topic sponsor this year again and we were thrilled to see the children’s vision of climate villains.

“This is an excellent educational project to help children understand climate change and what can be done to combat it.

“Millions of small actions can make a huge difference and saving the environment is about us all working together. 

“This is your planet Earth. It is your future and we need everybody to do the right thing.”

Robert Clements, the Housing Executive’s Sustainable Development Manager, thanked everyone for taking part in the competition and showing concern for the environment.

“Young people should be encouraged to take steps to make their home more energy efficient and to help their parents save money and to save the planet,” he urged.

“By partnering with the Eco-Schools NI, we are able to engage with schoolchildren, harnessing their creative skills to promote the benefits of energy efficiency in the home.” 

For more information visit www.nihe.org.uk.