Eco warriors Advey Gupta, Mohammad El Damanhoury and Areana Madhavan at the school’s annual Spring Fair Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: Eco Warriors, a students’ group from GEMS Jumeirah Primary School, is gearing up to clean the Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary next week to mark International Earth Day (April 22).

The group, a brainchild of 10-year-old Areana Madhavan, comprises 23 students who are doing their bit to save the planet. “The minimum age to participate in the drive is seven, so not everyone will be able to take part. But most of us will be there from 8am to 11.30pm,” said Areana.

The daylong event on April 25 will see students clean up the beaches of Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary, plant baby mangrove trees and release the finned black seabream fish into the sea.

The primary school that caters to children between the ages of four and 11 has a total of 1,680 students. Rachel Higgins, principal of the school, who is closely involved with Eco Warriors, said: “The youngest child in the Eco Warriors team is five and the oldest is 11. The drive is self-led. The children come to us with new initiatives all the time,” she said.

Areana, who proposed the idea to her school authorities seven months ago, said: “About a year ago I saw a video where a little turtle had choked on a bottle cap. The doctors who cut open its intestine, found other plastic items that the animal had ingested in the last two-three days. I was deeply affected by this and wanted to do something.”

Clean-up drives

The team has been at the forefront of the school’s monthly clean-up drives as well as the school’s annual event ‘Spring Fair’, where Eco Warriors managed to raise Dh500 from the sale of old discarded toys.

“The money was used to buy more dustbins for the school and cans to store discarded things,” said Areana. The team also managed to collect 2,500 plastic bottles, over 850 soda cans and tonnes of waste paper that was later recycled by the authorities.

According to Higgins, Areana also collaborated with Green Box, a free paper recycling authority. “Every student now brings in waste paper, plastic bottles from their homes as the Green Box staff comes over weekly to collect these,” she added.