LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- On this election day, a group of Longmeadow sixth graders want voters to know that everyone has a voice, even if they're too young to cast a ballot.

The journey for this group of five students began a couple of years ago when they all attended Center Elementary School - when a class project about the affect of plastic bags on the environment turned into a passion.

Now, it's a town bylaw.

Luca Barresi dressed in 500 single-use plastic bags to illustrate a point. He and his friends Anna Antonopoulos, Francesca Trotta, Sofia Gordon, and Veronica Osei-Owusu want people to know how plastic bags can affect the environment.

Two years ago, as classmates at Longmeadow's Center School, they read a book about what plastic bags can do to the environment with reading specialist Valerie Fritz.

"They're just so passionate and I always tell them their voices are powerful and just because their kids, people will still listen," Fritz noted.

So began their journey. Even though they are now in sixth grade, some in separate schools, this group stayed together and put together a presentation for the PTO, the school committee, and finally, town selectman to get, first their schools, then their town, to ban plastic bags.

"When me and my friends started doing it, I got what it really is and how plastic bags are important to people, but we need to find a different way to use them," Antonopoulos said.

First, they got their classmates on-board.

"There was this one girl I remember, when we told her all the facts, she got so sad, she cried because she loves animals and I felt really bad, but I thought, well, that's one person on our side," Trotta added.

Then the PTO and school committee.

"At first, I didn't think it was going to go pretty far, but then as we went on it got big and I was confused on what as happening, like, oh my God, what's happening," osei-owusu explained.

Just last month, the town voted yes to the ban, a bylaw to take effect in April.

"I'm really proud because we literally just started reading books about plastic and two years later, we banned them all together," Gordon said.

On this election day, a message from these now sixth graders.

"Even though you're young, you might not be as big as other people, your voice is still heard and you can still make a change," Barresi noted.

This group is not done. They said they are now on a mission to get plastic recycling bins in everything from cafeterias to classrooms and athletic fields in town.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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