Cookstown pupils take a walk on the wild side

PUPILS from Cookstown High School’s Learning Support Centre (LSC) have been taking a walk on the wild-side along the Ballinderry Riv to celebrate World Rivers Day.

On Sunday, September 31, millions of people across 60 countries will celebrate World Rivers Day and to mark the occasion, children from the LSC have adopted the Ballinderry River at Cabin Wood which will be used throughout the year as an as an outdoor classroom. On Monday the children, helped by the Ballinderry River Enhancement Association, learnt how to identify the pollution sensitive water insects in the river which, by their presence or absence, tell us how clean or dirty the river is.

This was followed by a walk along the riverbank to see how much wildlife could be seen, both in the water and along the river.

Children from the LSC have been visiting BREA’s fish hatchery at Orritor for the past two years, learning about the life-cycle of the trout which live in the river and the globally endangered freshwater pearl mussels that depend on them.

This winter the children will join a growing BREA project called Hatchery in the Classroom, through which they will run their own fish hatchery, at school, to watch trout eggs hatching before releasing the fish to their stretch of river in spring.

Linda Armstrong, LSC teacher said she is delighted with the variety of transferable skills that the pupils are developing by being involved with this enjoyable and worthwhile project.

Mark Horton, River Projects Coordinator for BREA added: “As a charity concerned with the conservation, protection and enjoyment of the Ballinderry River we are keen to encourage schools in the area to adopt stretches of the river and use them to learn about the river environment and the wildlife which depends on it.

“The LSC is now the second school group to adopt part of the river after the Holy Trinity River Warriors blazed a trail in litter picking and wildlife monitoring along the river at Glenavon. We are looking forward to a year long programme of events with the LSC to learn more about our river at Cabin Wood.”

If your school is interested in using the river as an outdoor classroom or you would like to learn more about the work of BREA, contact Mark Horton on 028 867 61515 or