Community hero: 'Trash Girl' Nadia Sparkes inspiring people to pick up litter
PUBLISHED: 09:51 21 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:51 21 December 2018
Twelve months ago the nickname "Trash Girl" was used to tease Nadia Sparkes for her eco-friendly ways.
But the Hellesdon High School pupil took ownership of the name and today uses it to inspire others to clean up their communities.
The 13-year-old was targeted by bullies because she would collect rubbish every day along her two-mile route to school.
But the teasing stopped when Nadia’s story was picked up by news outlets across the world and went viral on the internet.
It led to an artist turning her into a cartoon superhero and the creation of the ‘Team Trash Girl’ Facebook page, which has almost 4,000 members.
She was also made one of WWF’s youngest Earth Hour ambassadors and was shortlisted for a Stars of Norfolk award.
Nadia’s mum, Paula, said her daughter started picking up the rubbish after becoming concerned about the amount dropped on her way to school.
She said: “I told her she had two choices, she could either stop collecting rubbish, stop drawing their attention and hopefully they would leave her alone.
“Or she could own [the name] “trash girl”.
“As a family we are extremely proud of Nadia, not only for standing up to bullies, but also for standing up for what she believes is right.”
Speaking earlier this year Nadia said: “I’m not going to stop doing the right thing because of them [the bullies], and if they are going to call me trash girl, they can say it with respect.
“I’m doing something to protect the world they also live in.
“It’s everyone’s job. We are all responsible for keeping this world safe, instead of believing that it’s always someone else’s job.”
Her mum, who lives in Hellesdon, said it is not just her daughter who makes an effort to help the environment.
Nadia’s grandad helps keep the beach clean in Mundesley, while Mrs Sparkes often picks up litter when visiting the seaside.
“Nadia will be continuing to collect the bottles and cans that line her route to and from school,” Mrs Sparkes added.
“It’s just a shame that so much is being dropped in the first place and that she has even been mocked for doing something so good.”
Nadia’s ‘Team Trash Girl’ Facebook page has 3,909 members and encourages people to pick up three pieces of rubbish each day.