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First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones has congratulated pupils from West Wales on their campaign to educate people about Fairtrade footballs. The campaign, which highlighted the meager wages and poor conditions endured by many football-stitchers in developing countries, was Highly Commended in awards presented by the Fairtrade Foundation. The First Minister met pupils and teachers from Tavernspite County Primary School, Pembrokeshire, at the Fair Trade Wales stall at the National Eisteddfod of Wales where he praised their efforts to raise awareness of the issue.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “I am very proud that Wales continues to lead the way in supporting Fair Trade. The number of Fair Trade schools, towns and local authorities keeps growing, more businesses are embracing Fair Trade products and awareness has increased across the country.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to Tavernspite County Primary School on their success in the Fairtrade Foundation Awards. It is encouraging to see the dedication and hard work of young people in Wales in supporting and promoting Fair Trade. Their commitment is playing an important part in helping thousands of developing country farmers and producers to trade their way out of poverty”.

The Margaret Demidecka Fairtrade Awards are given by the Fairtrade Foundation to primary and secondary schools for activities held during the annual Fairtrade Fortnight.

The pupils at Tavernspite learnt that many workers receive just 22p per ball compared with the vast sums received by many professional football players, and often have to endure poor and hazardous working conditions. In addition to workshops and assemblies, the school held its own Fairtrade football tournament to raise awareness in the local community, and wrote to national clubs to persuade them to purchase Fairtrade footballs for their teams.

Year two teacher Julie Houghton, who is also the schools fair trade co-ordinator, said: “Tavernspite became a Fairtrade School in 2010 and the children are very aware of Fair Trade issues. They were shocked to learn about the unfairness and conditions endured by many of the people who make the footballs used in playgrounds and on football pitches everyday, and wanted to do all they could to help. They were thrilled to find their work was so appreciated by the Fairtrade Foundation and the First Minister of Wales. They are now eagerly awaiting replies to their letters.”

Fair Trade Wales’ schools speaker, Sharron Hardwick, created the campaign. She said: “I’m so impressed with the dedication of all at Tavernspite School. They are a school with a heart for fairness, leading the way for other schools to follow. The pupils in my year 2 lesson, listened and responded beautifully; producing some moving posters depicting the difference Fair Trade makes.”

To find out more about Fairtrade footballs visit www.fairtrade.org.uk

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