Efforts to increase awareness about coastal hazards such as tsunamis and hurricanes were stepped up today when Breaker, the Coastal Hazard mascot, was revealed for the first time.
Designed and created by 10-year-old Tabion Marshall of the Roland Edwards Primary School, the mascot emerged victorious over 36 entries in the Coastal Hazard Mascot Primary Schools Poster competition hosted by the Technical Standing Committee on Coastal Hazards and the Barbados Government Information Service.
Speaking during today’s prize-giving ceremony for the top three posters at the Crane Breach Resort, Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, commended the students, and encouraged them to continue developing a culture of preparedness.
He noted that despite the ministry’s best efforts to educate people in terms of preparedness for the annual hurricane season, there was always a rush to get items when a system was approaching the island.
“The reality is that while we are alive; and while we are on this earth; and while we are on this rock, we must be prepared for all eventualities. In that regard, we believe that the onus is on us to ensure that there is continuity. That is why we have targeted our young people so that if we get in on the bottom floor we would have developed a culture of preparedness,” the minister said.
Brathwaite added that it was important that the youth understood that Barbados’ best defence against all types of hazards, natural and man-made, was its ability to be prepared.
“Therefore, while you participated in this competition successfully, I want you to move beyond that and continue to let it be a part of your culture of preparedness so that when you hear of tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes …, that in fact starting now, you ask the question: Are we prepared? How do I learn more to ensure that I can survive, and that my family can survive if it is a man-made or natural hazard?” he queried.
Brathwaite further noted that it was his ministry’s responsibility to educate Barbadians about the various types of natural hazards.
“While we may feel that tsunamis in this part of the region are remote, the onus is on us, that is why we established the Standing Committee … to ensure that the region is able to respond to coastal hazards, because we believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that we are best able to respond,” he said.
However, Brathwaite has also urged adults to take their responsibility seriously to ensure they understood what was required.
Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, also commended the response to the competition, noting that Barbados’ educational system continued to be a conduit to infuse and transmit vital information to the society.
She explained that the committee’s ongoing national public relations campaign was a deliberate effort to raise awareness about tsunamis and other coastal hazards which could affect Barbados.
“It is envisaged that the island’s population would be in a better position to deal with the hazard impact from a tsunami and other coastal hazards. From a DEM perspective, this competition, and the entire National Tsunami and Coastal Hazards Preparedness and Awareness programme is in keeping with the comprehensive disaster management strategy which focuses on managing all hazards with the assistance of all people with the ultimate aim of fostering disaster resilience and safe communities,” Hinds said.
Breaker depicts hurricanes, storm surges, tsunamis and earthquakes and will be used as a mascot for all coastal hazards.
Meanwhile, nine-year-old Michaela Ward of the Providence Elementary School placed second with her poster, while 11-year-old Niann Thompson of the St. Alban’s Primary School was third.