A mother of four has written a series of books to help educate children about the impact of plastics on ocean ecosystems and a grant from North Herts District Council’s Letchworth Area Committee has been given to the Plastic Free Letchworth Project to provide a copy of these books to all the primary schools in Letchworth.

Ellie Jackson, who lives by the sea in Looe, Cornwall, wrote her first book while living in Australia. It was inspired by a year spent on a tropical island, during which she and her family saw a turtle being released back into the ocean after a year of treatment for ingesting plastic.

“My children and I were transfixed by the sight of this beautiful creature being set free, and subsequently visited a turtle hospital on the mainland to find out more,” she remarks. “Afterwards, the children were obsessed with clearing litter from beaches, so that they could help protect turtles and other sea life.”

In this way, Ellie, an environmental scientist who taught geography for six years, conceived her idea to use a children’s story as a way of educating young people about the threat to sea life of our dependence on plastic. Thus Duffy the sea turtle was born, whose adventures provide the basis for Ellie’s first book, entitled Duffy’s Lucky Escape and launched earlier this year.

Ellie has also launched her second book about a puffin who gets tangled in a balloon, with another book due out in September 2018. Each Letchworth primary school receives copies of both books together with access to online resources and ideas.

So far, Duffy has sold well, and Ellie’s ambition is to have a copy in every UK school by the end of 2018. 

Julia Sonander from Plastic Free Letchworth comments, “its important that we understand how plastics can cause harm and think about ways we can change our behaviour to reduce our use of plastics. These beautiful illustrated books with their engaging stories are a great way to get children thinking about how they can do something to help. A number of schools have recently taken part in the Plastic Free Letchworth themed Festival Art Competition so we know schools are already keen to raise this issue with their children.”

Ellie has been impressed by the District Council’s support and states “to have Council’s offer to sponsor all the local schools in Letchworth has been wonderful – by educating young people, we’re safeguarding the future, and raising a more enlightened generation.”

“By using engaging stories with fantastic illustrations, we’re able to connect with children of all ages and bring the issue down to their level,” she reports. “It’s my view that projects like this can have a real impact by engaging whole communities with the issue and inspiring them to make the changes our environment so desperately needs.

The Plastic Free Letchworth team are busy visiting Letchworth schools to deliver their books and hope that the books will inspire the children to make a difference.

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