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Kids’ Patch


Plastic pollution and old fishing lines are a serious problem for sea life, so when 12-year-old Shalise Leesfield learned it was killing thousands of sea animals each year, she set out on a crusade to clean up local beaches and save lives.

Photos by Shannon Leesfield

‘Two years ago, I started noticing a lot of rubbish around our waterways, especially old fishing line. I was always finding large clumps of it scattered all over the sand. When I found out how bad forgotten fishing line and plastic pollution can be for the marine animals, it made me really upset,’ says Shalise.

‘Fishing line is one of the most harmful forms of marine pollution because it’s strong and invisible in the water. A lot of marine animals can’t see it and get tangled in it. Fishing line can take up to 600 years to break down. Sea turtles, marine mammals and even sea birds can be severely injured or die from entanglement in forgotten line.’

Shalise did her research, then worked with council to get a $77,000 grant to help deal with marine pollution. The project includes putting up signs, fishing-line collection bins, educational flyers and communicating with local fishermen and women through the media.

Shalise is the first school-aged person to receive an important state government award for her commitment to the environment. She has been on two popular Australian TV shows – The Project and Behind the News – and speaks regularly at schools and festivals.

She has also made a beautiful friendship with a wild pelican, Mr Percival, who keeps her company when she cleans the beach and lake each day.

‘The ocean is the most important resource in the world and it’s the heart of our planet. It regulates the earth’s climate, feeds hundreds of millions of people, is home to an abundance of wildlife and even gives us medicines. But probably the most important factor is that the ocean gives us the oxygen we need to breathe. We NEED the ocean to be healthy.

‘I think it’s important that my generation makes sure they know exactly how to take care of the earth, as we will be the caretakers of our planet in years to come. More than ever before, the fate of the ocean is in our hands. I believe kid power is the future of our planet!’

Follow Shalise on Instagram


Words by Ella Woodger

You will need:

  • 1 piece of elastic 14 cm long
  • 1 piece of material approximately 14 cm x 45 cm
  • 1 safety pin
  • scissors
  • sewing machine or needle
  • thread
  1. Cut the material to size. This size can vary slightly depending on the amount of folds you want and how big you want it. Start with these measurements, but experiment to find the perfect scrunchie for you.
  2. Hem the ends to stop fraying (optional).
  3. Fold the material in half lengthways, with right sides facing. Sew along the length of the material, making it into a tube.
  4. Turn the tube of material right side out by securing the safety pin to one end and feeding it through the tube.
  5. Attach the safety pin to the end of the elastic and feed it through the tube.
  6. Hold two ends of the elastic together and tie in a knot.
  7. Pull the material over the knot so the elastic isn’t showing and straighten the material so it is flat.
  8. Sew the ends of the material together to hold it all in place.
  9. Tie your hair in your favourite hairstyle and get your scrunchie on.


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