Education, Litter, mountain bike, Trash Free Trails

“This is the best day at school EVER!”

“This is the best day at school EVER!”

Every community needs pioneers, those who are willing to step outside of their own comfort zones, determined to try new things in order to enhance the lives of those they directly and indirectly meet. Jo is one of these people and shows the power that comes from asking a question.

So I am sat outside under the trees with my class the day before the TrashMob Academy goes live. We are discussing the work they will be doing for the TrashMob Academy, and how they will be the first students ‘EVER’ to be involved. I tell them that we will be riding cool mountain bikes and my friend Harry, from Yorkshire Trail Collective and British Cycling, will be giving them coaching at Leeds Urban bike park… their eyes light up, and I have them hooked… UNTIL I mention that we will be collecting trash and reducing the litter on the trails whilst riding; That was it, I was faced with disgruntled students who were adamant they were not picking up any litter.

They questioned why should they! It wasn’t their rubbish! Its dirty! and kept repeating their refusal. I am not going to lie, my heart sank a little and became slightly nervous that I was going to fail at the first hurdle. But then I became excited, I become more determined, I remembered that this was the whole reason for the TrashMob Academy.

This first session in class was about feeding them the background knowledge the why’s and where… it was an opportunity for them to share their thoughts and reasoning. They responded very honestly as only young people do. This session was linked to the National Curriculum requirement of teaching citizenship, with the link to improving life in their communities as part of being a ‘good’ citizen. The true amazement came from the student, who had reached a point whereby he needed to learn from his self-made tent under the table. He disappeared under and all I heard was a voice still sharing his feeling on littering and how he can help the community by putting his rubbish in the bin. He participated fully, just from a place that he felt safe.

The magic of TrashMob and its ability to entice!

By the end of the class session they were ready to release some energy so off to Leeds Urban Bike Park we went. What can I say…I was blown away by them! Harry had them eating out of his hands in no time and they engaged like never before, they listened intently, engaged fully, supported each other, annnnnd collected trash from the trails!!!

Not a single student refused or complained, some even stopped mid trail because they could see some litter that needed collecting. The whole experience of being outdoors and enjoying their ride had changed their mind set in such a short time. It bought the shy students out of their shell and allowed for them to gain a whole new experience.


I cannot wait to see how their love of the outdoors and their mountain bike skills improve throughout the Trash Free Trail educational scheme.

Being told “This is the best day at school EVER!” completely sums up how extraordinary their day had been and shows the pure magic of purposeful outdoor adventures. Thank you to Harry and our wonderful photographer from Cotic Bikes for your help in ensuring their first day of TrashMob Academy was a true day to remember.


If you, like me, want to take this into your community and create your own TrashMob of the future, please get in touch

Jo Shwe - TrashMob Academy Pioneer
All photos: Rich Baybutt