From a young age, we hear the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Yet as we get older, we realize that this is not always true, and that we should keep in mind what we can no longer see. Aquatic debris and shoreline litter wash out of sight into our streams, rivers and oceans, causing problems that have been long ignored because they are out of sight. Over the last few years, however, awareness is growing about aquatic debris and shoreline litter as more and more people are getting involved in programs like the Vancouver Aquarium’s  Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, and delivered in partnership with WWF.

We created the Spring Educational Program of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup because we want to keep building on this momentum focusing on the role of young people.  Youth are one of our strongest resources and our best hope for change. Developed for schools and other youth groups, the Spring Educational Program includes a spring shoreline cleanup in May. It also includes materials to help teachers use shoreline cleanups as educational fieldtrips for their classes. By simply downloading our free curriculum guides, teachers will have access to a number of lesson plans that will allow them to prepare their classes for what they will find on the shoreline and what impact those items have on their local aquatic ecosystems.

For secondary students who are already passionate about the environment, our Youth Site Coordinator Manual outlines how to work together with friends and classmates to organize a shoreline cleanup. After completing a shoreline cleanup, these young site coordinators will have gained valuable skills in teamwork, leadership, marketing and event management. They will also encounter firsthand the most common litter items and begin to think about how to change their everyday actions to help keep our waters healthy.

Our hope is that the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Spring Educational Program will help students learn that shoreline litter should not be out of mind, because shoreline litter will affect our environment if it is not picked up and disposed of properly.

For now, this program is available in British Columbia and Ontario–we hope to expand this program to other provinces in the future.

If you know a teacher or are a teacher who is interested in participating in this year’s Spring Educational Program, please visit www.ShorelineCleanup.ca/schools for more information and to sign up for a spring shoreline cleanup today.

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