Josh Oyiki, a third year student from Athlone Community College, has been chosen as the winner of the inaugural ‘Green-Schools Clean Air Week’ poetry competition.
Josh’s poem, Differing Similarity, was chosen by judge Sasha Terfous from a pool of over 1,000 entries to the competition.
Organised by the Green-Schools Travel programme, Clean Air Week focused on raising awareness of, and taking action on, air pollution in and around the school gate. This year a poetry competition was added to the week’s celebrations, to allow students to think creatively about their journey to school.
In the past 12 months, many people got the chance to experience how their communities could benefit from improved air quality. During Clean Air Week in November 2020, Green-Schools asked schools to learn about how car journeys impact air quality and how air quality at the school gate can be improved when more students and teachers walk or cycle to school.
A survey conducted by the GLOBE programme in partnership with Green-Schools Travel found that nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ) levels were higher for schools situated in major towns and cities when compared to schools located in rural areas. The main source of NO2 in Ireland is from road transport and journeys to school by car are contributing to poor air quality.
For Clean Air Week 2020, Green-Schools commissioned spoken word artist Sasha Terfous to celebrate the work of students and schools and to inspire entries to the inaugural ‘Clean Air Week’ poetry competition.
Sasha’s work, My Promise is now available on the Green-Schools website and social media channels to motivate students around Ireland as they contemplate how air quality impacts their lives and its greater environmental implications. Sasha also judged the entries to the poetry competition.
Schools and other interested parties can find the Green-Schools No Idling Toolkit and an Air Quality resource on the Green-Schools website.
Winning Competiton Entry
Josh Oyiki, Athlone Community College
Two sycamore seeds soaring through the air,
one lost in the wind, found in despair,
one steadfast, mighty, galloping as a horse,
found fortune and luck ridden in his course.
Lost in the world with nowhere to go,
All on his own, tos-sed and thrown,
“Good things come in time” a fib he told
himself patiently waiting, twisting and turning.
Struggling when gliding, frowning while moaning.
The savage storms and vicious winds traversed,
until all hope was lost and landed, him cursed.
In dretched marsh, drowning and dying
In a deathbed of mud, doleful we mourn,
A pitiful sight of which we scorn.
Poor sycamore seed could’ve been so much more
A plight so forced unable to take flight,
of what could have been; this wrong not right.
Rich sycamore seed will thrive be grand, be strong,
Be tall a tree who will have faced nothing wrong
Of a wealth so fortunate; a life gotten by chance,
knew not of strife, ignorant in his stance.
Poor sycamore seed woke up revived
Of renewing winds marvelous in his eyes,
Poor too became rich, now landed graciously
For now known to him was a life extr’ordin’ry.
We see two paths: one straight, one crooked
Outwardly similar, differing in nature.