“Young people need to stand up and make a difference as we are the next generation of leaders” – thinks Shalise Leesfield, an 11-year-old girl, who has already started to change the world by making a difference to the environment. Shalise has always been passionate about marine life and environment so there is no wonder why she decided to make a change immediately when she found out about the horrific impacts of fishing line on sea life. So while a lot of people were talking about how plastics and other waste are bad for the environment, Shalise understood that spreading a message is not enough to solve this problem – that’s why this girl started to make a change just by herself.
First of all, in 2017, she began to collect these fishing lines in her surroundings in Hastings – and all findings made a girl quite upset: there were tons of left fishing lines which could cause danger to water animals. Obviously, people didn’t understand how much damage that little piece of a line can do. So in order to solve both of these problems, Shalise requested Hastings Council for approval to install the fishing lines collection bins locally which give people a place to put the fishing line they find on the beach so it is in a secure bin and won’t fly away. And what do you think? The council approved her request and Shalise successfully campaigned for two Seal the Loop fishing line collection bins to be installed in her hometown.
A positive result was obvious after this installation – as Shalise claims herself, she empties these fishing line bins every week and collects three-four handful of lines each time. Also, when she checks the shorelines, she finds less and less discarded fishing lines, which makes her overjoyed. All this mean that 1. Fishing lines cause less damage to water animals than before and 2. People became aware of the necessity to take care of fishing lines. Even more, all her efforts were recognized by the local authorities and now it is hoped that the council will support Shalise expand her program to include a community education component by sourcing grant funding through the Environmental Protection Authority.
Right now this young eco-warrior is about to seek for more: on March 4th she is going to host a Clean up Australia Day event and will clean up the Lake Cathie Foreshore Reserve with a support from her friends. Her activities also show how easy it is to go green – what you need to do is to start with yourself and recycle more or just pick up a piece of rubbish. If everybody could do this, these little acts would make the world much cleaner and safer place to live for all living creatures.
Shalise shows a strong empathy not only for the environment but also for her friends which makes her even more special. In 2016, she found out that her friend cannot play Minecraft game due to having cerebral palsy. So Shalise took an action and invented cooper-wired wooden hammer which, when connected to metal blocks, allowed her friend to build a virtual game world. As we can see, there is nothing impossible for Shalise when it comes to making a positive change.
So now we all have an example from whom we can learn how to take care of our world. As Shalise says, “Everyone can make a difference. Going green is much easier than you think. Take your own shopping bags instead of plastic bags, don’t use plastic water bottles that can’t be broken down and try to use less water at home.” And we hope her words will reach as many people as possible,
by Ieva Tilindyte, European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute.
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CC BY 4.0 DOIT, https://www.doit-europe.net, H2020-770063