An initiative to encourage children to clean the streets while exercising is being set up across schools in Richmond.
The activity, called plogging, an amalgamation of jogging and the Swedish phrase ‘plocka upp’ which means pick up, began in Sweden in 2016 due to concerns over the environment and rubbish strewn about the streets.
After hearing about the sport, marketing consultant Michelle Parks decided to create Plogolution along with Dermot Kavanagh, 29, in July with the aim of spreading it to more people in the community.
Michelle, 39, said: “I’ve got two sons so I decided to pilot it with them in their schools in Kingston.
“Primary schools are our main focus so that kids can be environmentally smart from a young age.
“We do an assembly with the children, run the first plog with them then give the reins over.”
Most rubbish picked up includes the usual plastic bottles and cigarette stubs.
The initial run turned out to be so successful that four schools have plogging clubs with another five starting next year.
Michelle is now turning her eye to other boroughs and wants to emulate the accomplishment, starting in Richmond.
“Our plan is to take this nationally and make picking up litter fashionable.”
But of course to set up the clubs, funding is required to purchase the equipment.
Mrs Parks said it costs around £200 to set up a club.
She explained: “We need litter pickers, gloves, biodegradable rubbish bags, t-shirts, reusable metal water bottles.
“At the end of the school year we have an award ceremony where we give the children a certificate and an environmental book.
“Getting the kids involved means that not only do they get the exercise, they can see the difference they’re making.
“One of the heads said to me that it’s looking so much cleaner around the school.
“Although we have full-time jobs we’re so passionate about this it doesn’t feel like work.”
Anyone wishing to help can donate here.