EcoSchool: students take charge of recycling

Award winning UPSHIFT project helps green schools in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kyrylo Popov
Eco school team
UNICEF/2019/Kharkiv/Kateryna Kharuta
05 July 2019

Our country Ukraine is rich in natural resources. Forests, steppes, rivers and mountains are our natural wealth that we received from our ancestors and that we should pass on to future generations.

But nowadays access to clean water is increasingly problematic. Five years of military conflict in the East has destroyed much of the supply infrastructure. Air and soil pollution are damaging our health, and cheap packaging material is being mass produced. Scientists are raising the alarm – some types of plastic will take over 1,000 years to decompose. And this is true not only for our country.

How can we save the environment so that people can stay healthy, drink clean water and breathe fresh air?

Иван Расстегаев, 17 лет (слева), и Кирилл Попов, 17 лет (справа), представляют детальное проектное предложение про свою инициативу «Экошкола» во время тренинга на семинаре UPSHIFT в Украине.
UNICEF/2019/Kharkiv/Kateryna Kharuta
Ivan Rasstehaiev, 17 (left) and Kyrylo Popov, 17 (right) developing a detailed project proposal for their “Eco-school” initiative during the UPSHIFT Ukraine training.

How can we save the environment so that people can stay healthy, drink clean water and breathe fresh air?

That is the question we, eleventh grade students at ‘V.Korolenko’ school in Kharkiv, asked ourselves when we took part in the UPSHIFT programme, supported by UNICEF and European Union. Our mission was to encourage youth and adolescents to recycle and take care of natural resources. We designed several containers for the main types of recyclable waste. This is how the ‘EcoSchool’ project began.

Because my teammates and I study at a school for children with visual impairments, we’ve included braille text on the containers, to make them more accessible. We hope that as our project reaches more schools across the city, the containers with Braille text will help raise awareness on the importance of accessibility.

Валерия Бушуева, 14 лет, показывает макет контейнера для мусора, который будет установлен в ее школе.
UNICEF/2019/Kharkiv/Oleksandra Gunko
Valeriia Bushuieva, 14, showing a model of a recycling bin which will be installed at her school.

Participating in the UPSHIFT programme gave us the opportunity to design a project from the ground up, which was very empowering. At the workshops, we met participants from other schools, and found like-minded people with whom I hope we can work in the future. We are grateful to our mentor - Oleh Kulinych, who not only helped to design an action plan for our project but became our friend and inspiration. I am convinced that non-formal education opportunities like the UPSHIFT programme are a great opportunity for youngsters to learn more about potential career paths and understand how to cooperate with others.

Our project was among the winners of a grant from UNICEF and the European Union. Now we are excited to move forward with it. The containers for various types of waste, that will be installed in our school, have already been produced.

Our priority now is to disseminate knowledge on the importance of recycling and the specific ways people can do that.  We hope to reach all schools in Kharkiv and are preparing to report our results.

For us, it is important that forests remain green, rivers - blue, and that the gloomy scenes of an environmental apocalypse remain only in science fiction.

About ‘EcoSchool’ team:

We are a group of 11th grade students from ‘V. Korolenko’ school in Kharkiv:

Valeriia Bushuieva, Vadym Dunets, Viktoriia Lysenko, Ivan Rastehaiev, Kyrylo Popov

We are proactive, responsible, sociable, and above all – a team of great friends in pursuit of a common goal.

About the author:

My name is Kyrylo Popov, I am 17 years old, I was born and live in Kharkiv. I am fond of music and signing songs. I like to read, draw, travel, spend time with family and friends, my hobby is computer design. Wildlife is very important to me. According to my friends, I have the skill to take responsibility when the team needs a leader.