A teenage girl who was nicknamed “Trash Girl” by bullies for picking up litter on her way to and from school was forced to change schools after she was assaulted by pupils.
Nadia Sparkes, a 13-year-old who has collected more than 3,000 litres of rubbish while cycling on her journey to and home from school, has amassed a following of more than 4,000 followers on social media.
The teen has chosen to embrace the “Trash Girl” moniker and her campaign for a cleaner world has been adopted by leading green organisations including WWF, Greenpeace, and Keep Britain Tidy.
But her mother has now said police were forced to intervene last month when Nadia was shown a knife and punched at school.
Paula Sparkes told the BBC that police became involved last term when Nadia was allegedly shown a knife and shortly afterwards chased and punched by a student.
Nadia had to sit through a class covered in orange juice that had been thrown in her face in a separate incident, her mother added.
She said her daughter was not championed at school – adding that “the staff were not on her side to help and support her and we felt it was not appropriate for her to be there anymore”.
Norfolk Police said officer were called to an incident at the school and had referred a teen to the Youth Offending Team which was providing support.
A spokesperson said: "Officers also provided extra knife crime prevention presentations to all years groups."
Nadia received the Point of Light award - an accolade given to volunteers who make a difference to their community - from Theresa May for her anti-litter campaign.
“Through your Trash Girl campaign you are changing attitudes on littering and inspiring thousands of your fellow students to take action,” Ms May said in a letter to Nadia.
“You are sending a positive message that we should all take responsibility for looking after our local environment, and should feel very proud of the difference this is making.”
Since 2017, Nadia has set off for school an hour early each day to collect litter and place it in her bicycle basket.
Nadia's mother said: “Nadia picked up a [volunteering] award from the prime minister earlier this month – it’s a shame when you think what the school could have achieved with this, and they haven’t.”
Nadia has now moved to Reepham High School – with her mother saying that she was “literally wearing litter” and adding that “it’s like it’s meant to be”.
Nadia, who wore her uniform made from recycled plastic bottles, hopes to continue picking up litter on the route to the bus stop on the way to her new school which is about 11 miles from her home.
Her old school, Hellesdon High School near Norwich, said pupils’ safety and welfare was of chief importance.
Tom Rolfe, Hellesdon principal, said the school did not tolerate bullying and would not actively discourage a student from following their passion.
“We promote an ethos that reflects high moral standards, a culture of social responsibility and fosters a safe learning environment for all students,” he told the BBC. “All students are respected and their individuality is valued.”
The Independent has contacted Nadia for comment.
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