Why don’t we just… scoop the poop?

Year 6 pupils from Unity Community Primary School in Manchester are determined to change people’s behaviour

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We are determined to change people’s behaviour. We have a big problem with people not cleaning up after their dogs near school. We are not going to stop until people start to listen.

Did you know that one in four adults in the UK owns a dog and that dogs are the most popular pet in this country?

If you touch dog mess and it contains bacteria or a virus it can cause serious problems and can even make you blind.

There is a real problem with people not picking up after their dog, but not just on the pavement. There is a big piece of grass near to our school and some of the children from Unity play on there after school. Sometimes they slip in the muck and it goes over their clothes. Yuck.

We have had times when pupils have walked into school with dog mess on their shoes because they didn’t notice it was on the path they were walking on. The classroom stunk, we felt gross, we couldn’t do our lesson and had to open the windows. It was horrible and it stunk for an hour.

It made us feel angry because school is for learning, not for cleaning up poo and having to deal with the smell.

Our headteacher Mrs Lee says: “People not picking up after their pet means that there can be a lot of poo on the pavement and our families can step in it and then it gets walked into our school. It is full of bacteria and it can make you poorly.”

When we were in Year 5 we decided it was time for child action. We wanted to change how people took care of their dogs and also look after each other. We wanted people to scoop the poop and put it in the bin. We were so angry we wrote to the council and asked for money to help us with our campaign. We got a community grant of £500.

As we discussed what we could do in class, we thought of words and phrases and someone said: “It sounds like a Dr Seuss Book.” And so the idea of a book was born.

Our teacher formed a club and we made posters, pictures and paintings and put the posters up in the community to try to encourage dog owners to be responsible. After we had put up posters on the gates and we went to take a photograph of them, we found poo on the ground near where the poster was.

It was still a really big issue. Our club was getting angry that the problem was still there and people weren’t listening to us.

Our next plan was to have the pictures and words made into a simple book called We Love Dogs because we do love them, but we want the owners to look after them better and clean up their dog’s mess and put in its rightful place – the bin. Next we made an animated video of the pictures and all the children involved in the project read the words in the book. It is now on YouTube (see below).

Soon we will be having a book launch where we will be inviting the community into our school. Our headteacher says: “I am really proud of the action that Year 6 children have taken. The book is fantastic and the video of the children reading the book is really powerful. We now have people from the council taking notice and supporting the campaign. They are making a difference and having an impact.”

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