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Special school pupils say no to plastic straws, aim for Cyprus to be first in EU

Pupils from the Special School of Ayios Spyridonas, in Larnaca, aim for Cyprus to be the first country in the EU to say no to the use of plastic straws in practice.

They tour the island on a bus, performing a play which sends the message: “Say no to plastic straws”. Today’s stop was the Parliamentary Committee of Environment.

In statements after the performance, Environment Committee President Adamos Adamou said that the presentation “which was by way of a play, has truly touched us.”

Unfortunately, Adamou noted, “once more the children have come to show us what we as adults should be doing. They came to show us what we should do in order to protect the environment and for other citizens to become aware and form an environmental culture.”

It is, he added, a culture “that exists in our country but is still in very low levels and citizens’ awareness needs to be increased.”

Every time children come to visit from this or other schools, they teach us “what we should be doing as the legislative power in order to protect the environment in which they will live in when they grow up.”

On her part left-wing AKEL MP Evanthia Savva, who proposed the students’ visit, said that this is “an excellent initiative, which seeks to raise awareness within society and children in particular on the use of plastic and protection of the environment.”

She added that the initiative “has been embraced by Larnaca Municipality, by Athienou Municipality, Livadia Municipality and other communities in Larnaca District.” She expressed the wish “that other Districts will follow so that Cyprus will become the first (EU) member state which is active in such type of activity, but also in order to show that special needs students can do many things.”

The initiative’s mascot, the Pink Flamingo, started from Larnaca, the bus with the children on board started from Larnaca and is seeking more fellow passengers, Savva said, calling on everyone “to get on board.”
Ruling party DISY MP Eleni Stavrou warmly congratulated on behalf of her party “all the organisers, the teachers of the school in in particular the children.”

“They moved us and conveyed to us strong messages,” she said, adding that their performance was excellent.
Stavrou further expressed the hope that everyone will follow on the children’s example and “will become environmentally aware for the benefit of our country and our children.”

Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou, said on her part that her office placed the initiative under its aegis from the first moment. Already, she pointed out “the message of reducing plastic, that is to say of environmental awareness but at the same time of volunteering and of involving everyone in order to have a better environment “has made good headway.”

About 8,000 non-plastic straws have distributed in schools throughout Cyprus, Panayiotou said, adding that a bookmark featuring Salina the Pink Flamingo with a message against the use of plastic straws is also distributed.

“Children are the best ambassadors in environmental protection matters” because they spread the message to households both in theory and practice, she noted. From then on, with the help of both local authorities and society at large, we can see the message multiply and we can therefore help in the implementation of European policy, the Environment Commissioner said.

Maria Psilolychnou, representing the teachers of Ayios Spyridonas school, said that the initiative has already achieved its goals sooner then expected. It is “on the way to success but we need your help,” she noted.

“Our environment needs it,” she said, adding that “we have located a small problem, the plastic straw, which are showcasing.”

The teacher continued pointing out that “we also want to showcase our children’s volunteerism.” For years most people see them as being on the receiving end of volunteerism; Our children have the capability and can also become volunteers themselves, they have proven this today, she added.

“We wish to activate many organisations. For once everyone to do something together,” she said, adding that this has become possible in Larnaca and has spread with the help of the Environment Commissioner and the Press and Information Office Director to the rest of Cyprus.

Psilolychnou also informed that the Cypriot Federation of Mountaineering, Climbing and Orienteering, which will host in November an international conference with delegates from 193 countries has adopted the message and has set as the conference’s slogan “The land of no straws.”

“We are not away from our goal to be the first EU member state to say no to plastic straws in practice,” she said.

(Cyprus News Agency/File Photo)

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