Nadia Sparks left home one hour before school started to pick up litter on her way. Her classmates called her 'trash girl.'
Nadia Sparks is an inspiring 13-year-old girl who refused to let her bullies deter her from the path she chose for herself. This resident of Norwich, England, took it upon herself to keep her surroundings clean by collecting trashing on her way to school every day. She was taunted every day by her fellow students who gave her a nickname- 'trash girl'. Sparks cleverly used this name to her deem herself as a superhero who cleans keeps the community clean.
Her Facebook page Team Trash Girl is a platform she used to encourage others to share instances when others have made an effort to pick up litter. In the description box, she writes: "I also wanted to find a way to help everyone support one another. To help fix the planet's problems before it becomes unfixable. So, please try to pick up 3 pieces of litter today. Show us what you have found. Let’s all support each other to make the world a better place." Since the commencement of her project, Nadia has collected over 300 gallons (about 1100 liters) of garbage.
Sparks received international praise and awards for her efforts and was also named the ambassador for the wildlife charity WWF. Her persona was captured in the form of a cartoon, being an artist herself, she soon published her personal environment-themed comic which featured in the local newspapers. Sparks channeled all the negative comments of her school mates and turned them into actions that were environmental-friendly. But her bullies didn't stop there. If anything, their behavior towards Nadia was solely driven by jealousy and hostility.
Nadia reportedly had cups of orange juice thrown at her. There were some who went to the extent of showing her a knife posing a threat. After being on the receiving end of such injustices such as being punched, the police had to get involved in the matter. Shifting from her old school Hellesdon High School was the only choice, said her mother Paula Sparks. "The staff was not on her side to help and support her and we felt it was not appropriate for her to be there anymore," she added.
According to BBC News, Norfolk Police also confirmed the incident and added they had referred a teenager to the Youth Offending Team for support. A spokeswoman mentioned the preventive steps taken by them to avoid any further knife crimes. "Officers also provided extra knife crime prevention presentations to all year groups," she said. Disappointed with the school, Paula said, "Nadia picked up an [volunteering] award from the prime minister earlier this month - it's a shame when you think what the school could have achieved with this, and they haven't."
Matt Willer, who runs an allotment project, approached Nadia's mother. This Reepham High School teacher said, "I'd heard of the amazing work she was doing collecting rubbish and how, very sadly, she was being bullied because she was doing something different." This resonated somewhere deep withing Paula. "This hit a nerve with me and we discussed how Nadia might like to come and have a look at Reepham High." Nadia then joined Reepham High after Easter break, wearing her uniform made out of recycled plastic bottles. Although, her new school is 11 miles away from her home she tried to collect as much trash as she can on her way to the bus stop.
Mr. Willer was of the view that Sparks would be a "huge asset" to the allotment project he was running. He added, "All the volunteers look forward to working with her as we all set a sound example about respecting the environment and living more sustainably." On the other hand, her previous school's principal Tom Rolfe assured that they weren't tolerant towards bullying and strongly discouraged their students from any such activities. "All students are respected and their individuality is valued," said Hellesdon's principal. "We promote an ethos that reflects high moral standards, a culture of social responsibility and fosters a safe learning environment for all students."
Nadia continues to inspire several people through her Facebook page which has over 4500 followers. Whenever her followers collect litter they make it a point to post a picture on this page.