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13-year-old nicknamed ‘trash woman’ by bullies for picking up litter

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Instead of being a mere spectator, a 13-year-old girl from Norwich, England decided to deal with her city’s trash problem with her own hands – literally.

Nadia Sparkes bikes for two miles every day to attend school at Hellesdon High School near Norwich. She noticed that there was so much litter everywhere, so she started collecting it in her bike basket on her way home.

Since she started her project, she has collected over 1,100 liters of trash, the majority of which has been recycled.

Nadia is an example of a girl who understands the urgency of the world’s garbage problem and takes active steps to help with it. However, her clean-up efforts were used against her by the bullies at her school, taunting her and dubbing her as “trash girl”.

Paula, Nadia’s mom, claims that her daughter had been punched in the head, doused with orange juice, and worst, shown a knife by the students who have been bullying her.

These awful and highly-concerning incidents forced Nadia’s family to transfer her to another school that would be more accepting and supportive of her mission. And luckily, they were able to find it in Reepham High, which is 13 miles away from Hellesdon.

There, Nadia met teacher Matt Willer, who she first met when they were both nominated for an eco-hero award.

Mr. Miller, who manages an allotment project, told BBC:

“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 hit a nerve with me and we discussed how Nadia might like to come and have a look at Reepham High.”

Despite the traumatizing experience of being bullied, Nadia didn’t want other people to focus on that, instead, she wanted them to support her cleaning crusade.

Instead of being discouraged, she used the name that bullies have been using to mock her and turned it into her own “brand”, creating the “Team Trash Girl” Facebook group, where she encourages other people to clean up and post their own litter-picking efforts.

She wrote:

“I 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.”

The group currently has 4,840 members, with its timeline full of posts from people all over Britain sharing their own trash-picking efforts and contribution to making the world a better and cleaner place to live in!

After Nadia’s story went viral in 2018, she became an ambassador for the wildlife charity WWF. She has also been praised by different organizations such as Keep Britain Tidy and Greenpeace.

Despite the setbacks that she faced, Nadia soldiered on and didn’t let her detractors keep her from fulfilling her mission – to spread awareness about the world’s trash problem and to encourage people to do something about it.

Check out Nadia’s interview with Julie Bradbury of The Outdoor Guide below.

Are you for Team Trash Girl? Follow Nadia on Instagram or join her Facebook group to share your own clean-up efforts!

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