Writing challenge encouraging pupils to #ParkYourThoughts

‘Park your thoughts and share your experiences’ - that’s what a new competition is asking students here to do.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB), the environmental charity that operate the Green Flag Award Scheme in Northern Ireland, has witnessed a surge in successful participating locations since the initial three awarded sites in 2008.

The annual Green Flag Awards Week celebrated a record number of successful parks and green spaces this year. Some 78 of Northern Ireland’s best-managed parks and open spaces now fly the flag over outdoor spaces that have become the new indoors - including quite a number in East Antrim.

As COVID-19 still has a tight grip on life here, these spaces continue to offer up fresh air life support and link local communities urban and rural.

New competition wants to know what your local park meant to you during lockdown?

With this in mind, the charity has launched a special pan-Northern Ireland schools competition - #ParkYourThoughts. The competition simply asks children, what does your local park mean to you? The creative writing challenge brings with it some great outdoor-inspired prizes to the value of £500. The competition will be open for entries, which can be a story or poem, until 5pm on Friday, December 11.

Entrants in East Antrim can perhaps draw on their experiences of 2020 Green Flag Award winning parks and spaces here which include: Antrim Loughshore and Gateway, Antrim Castle Gardens (Heritage), Antrim/Belmont Cemetery, Ballynure Old Graveyard, Jordanstown Loughshore Park, Hazelbank Park and Gideons Green, Kilbride Cemetery, Lilian Bland Park, Mallusk Cemetery, Mill Race Trail, Newtownabbey Way, Randalstown Riverside Walk, Rashee Cemetery, Sentry Hill Historic House & Visitor Centre (Heritage), Sixmile Water Park, Valley Park (V36 and Glas-na-braden Glen), Wallace Park, Carnfunnock Country Park, Greenland Cemetery, Ecos Nature Park AND Eden Allotment Gardens.

To achieve the Green Flag award applicants must meet robust measures, which include a site management plan and evidence candidates comply with a range of strict criteria including horticultural standards, cleanliness, environmental management, biodiversity, community involvement and safety standards.

For more information on #ParkYourThoughts competition, email [email protected]

Information and guidance on how to enjoy a safe and healthy visit to sites of outdoor recreation in Northern Ireland can be found at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/covid-19-gradual-reopening-outdoor-recreation-sites