Last year, in observance of Barbados’ 50th Anniversary of Independence, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) launched a photo essay competition for students that encouraged them to examine their own individual contribution to preserving the island’s environment.
And on Wednesday evening, students from seven schools were recognized for their outstanding contributions to that exercise which catered to eight to 18-year-olds.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Drainage Edison Alleyne said he was “deeply heartened” that the young people recognized the importance and value of the environment and that all citizens are responsible for keeping it healthy.
“Based on the entries received, it is evident that Barbados remains one of the most picturesque places on earth with its beautiful beaches, interesting cultural sites and captivating landscapes,” he said.
Lianne Antonia Downes of Hindsbury Primary School was the first place winner in the 8-11 category, while Torian Edwards of All Saints’ Primary and Arona Nurse of St Jude’s Primary placed second and third respectively.
In the 12-15 category, Jeresha Bovell of Ellerslie Secondary School placed first, followed by Harrison College’s Dominic Jordan and Rihanna Smith of Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
Zuhair Jada of the Barbados Community College was the only entrant in the 16-18 category.
Jada told Barbados TODAY it was his love of photography, coupled with a desire to spread the message of environmental protection that prompted him to enter the competition.
Another budding photographer, Smith, who is head girl at Deighton Griffith, focused her entry on reusing and recycling.
“I showed how plastic, instead of us throwing it away, how we can just make it something better instead of just causing chaos.
“I think it is very important because at this time we have a lot of youth who are ignorant to the ideas of how bad littering is and how big of a problem it really is. So I think this competition on a whole was a great way to spread awareness,” she said.
Downes, meantime, said she was “very happy” with her achievement.
“I wanted to learn more about the environment and to teach people how to take care of their environment,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Director of the EPD Anthony Headley said the department is working to change cultural attitudes towards environmental protection, and he was encouraged that the young people are taking the message seriously.
“We have the knowledge in terms of a society; the issue is getting people to practise the good habits in terms of environmental protection. And that is a lot harder than putting the ideas out there and communicating the information to people. That is something that takes time and it is something that has to be continuous,” he said.
Headley also acknowledged that the EPD needs to be more aggressive in getting it message across to the general public, even though it may be a challenge.
He told Barbados TODAY that the department will be focusing on the use of chemicals this year, during the observance of Environment Month in June.
“It’s going to be a comprehensive package looking at chemicals within the agricultural sector, industrial sector, transport of chemicals, and especially within the home. One of the things we’re actually concerned about is how people mix chemicals not knowing how those chemicals will react, and therefore the types of fumes that are possible from the different reactions that could occur,” Headley said.