Milton Keynes students answers Pope's call to live more sustainably

Eco-minded young pupils at a Catholic primary school sprang into action when Pope Francis made a plea for people everywhere to “protect the world”.

St Bernadette's school at Monkston Park launched a Live Simply action plan to help the children learn how to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable.

Under the live simply plan, the school built a beautiful prayer garden featuring Our Lady of Lourdes and St Bernadette. This is used every day for prayer, quiet times and reflection.

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In order to “live sustainably with creation”, the school's Mini Vinnies and the Junior Park Rangers have made sure every pupil understands their responsibility.

They have promoted ‘Switch off Fortnight’ when all unnecessary electrical devices and switched at school and at home.

The school introduced energy efficient LED lighting and solar roof panels, and now has the lowest school electricity bills in Milton Keynes. They have been praised by MK Council and is used as an example of good practice for using sustainable energy.

They have have introduced community litter-picks and recycling initiatives, alongside pupils learning how to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs, and how to cook healthy meals with their own produce.

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The youngsters have also grown their own flowers such as daffodils, marigolds and lavender which they sold to raise money for the school’s charitable work.

To help pupils live in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, the school has supported charities such as the SVP Make a House a Home project for young homeless families, the Winter Night Shelter, MK Food bank and a a local care home and dementia club.

Pupils have also recently sponsored a guide dog puppy, supported the development of a school in Ghana and raised funds for a care home for sick children in South Africa.

This month inspectors from CAFOD, the Catholic international development charity , visited the school and were delighted with all its efforts.

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Headteacher Mrs Jane Zamora said:“I could not be prouder of our school. I particularly thank Mrs Pughe, the members of our staff’s ‘Healthy Spirit Team’, the pupils who lead our Mini Vinnie Teams and our Park Rangers who have coordinated this aspect of our wider curriculum over the last two years.”

The feedback from the assessors was wonderful to hear and gives us the drive to find even more ways to Live Simply. Every child and member of staff was delighted as they have all played a part in responding Pope Francis’ invitation to Live Simply.”