Lights, camera, action! Young film makers ‘tackle’ protection of local fish and rivers.

An award-winning animator has teamed up with local school pupils to create a short film highlighting how pollution is destroying local river habitats.

The project, run by The Belfast Hills Partnership and supported by Belfast Harbour, combined the talents of Year 8 pupils from Lagan Integrated College and animator Joel Simon.  Joel has over 20 years’ experience working on projects for CBBC, Comic Relief, Sesame Street and Channel 4. 

Over an eight-week period students learned about local biodiversity issues and lifecycles, and then created their own storyboards, sets and animations showing the devastating effects of pollution on our local waterways and loughs.  Volunteers from the Belfast Hills Partnership regularly carry out river clean ups, removing bags of assorted litter and the results of fly tipping.

Following its launch today at Belfast Harbour office, the film will tour local schools to help teach other young people about environmental issues.

Belfast Hills Partnership Youth Outreach Officer, Jo Boylan, said:

“The aim of the film is to help young people gain new skills by learning about their local environment.

“By developing strong links with schools located close to the Belfast Hills we want to encourage young people to enjoy and protect local habitats and wildlife.” 

The film focuses on the lifecycle of the trout and the damage to local populations caused by litter and effluent from polluters. In recent years pollution incidents have killed thousands of fish in Northern Ireland, including the Ballymartin and Three Mile Water rivers in the Belfast Hills. 

The initiative is part of the Big Lottery Fund, Our Bright Future programme, which is creating opportunities for young people to connect with the environment. At the Belfast Hills Partnership this is being done by encouraging young people to find out more about their local rivers and how they connect the Hills to the city. They will therefore be more equipped to become the future ambassadors for natural heritage and wildlife.

Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour’s Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager, added:

“Sustainability is a core value for Belfast Harbour and in addition to protecting the environment within the Harbour Estate we also support a range of schools projects.

“This is a great project which combined opportunities to learn about the environment, animation techniques and science, and we hope that it will also help inspire others who see the film.”

The animation can be viewed on the Belfast Hills Partnership Facebook page and website