The Barbados Association of Muslim Ladies (BAML) and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados are partnering in an initiative to assist the Ministry of Education to execute its school nutrition policy.
The two organisations have been donating water coolers to schools across the island and, to date, 13 have received the receptacles.
During a handing over ceremony on Wednesday at the St Martin’s-Mangrove Primary School, the latest beneficiary of the initiative, BAML youth ambassador Haania Bulbulia said her organisation has been facilitating the programme by way of sponsorship and fundraising activities.
“Over the years, our association has, on behalf of the Muslim community, endeavoured to assist tangibly in areas that benefit a wide cross-section of Barbadians. This time we continue in these efforts to assist schools with having access to clean drinking water,” she said.
“These donations are part of our association’s support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados’ Drink More Water campaign and their urgent call for help to eliminate incidences of childhood obesity in Barbados. We support the importance of access to clean drinking water and we also recognise that many schools do not have water coolers or the financial means to purchase one at this time.”
Bulbulia added that the BAML was concerned about childhood obesity statistics in Barbados and wanted to play a role in reducing those numbers.
She noted that one in three children and two in every 19 teenagers were overweight or obese and sugary drinks were a primary factor contributing to this epidemic.
Chief executive officer of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados Michelle Daniel lamented that children were being bombarded with the marketing of unhealthy foods and very few healthy options were targeted at them.
She said creating a healthy school environment depended on a multi-stakeholder effort.
Contending that civil society must partner with the Government, Daniel said if more people were on board, children would be more inclined to eat healthier and exercise more.
During her remarks, Minister of Education Kay McConney commended the BAML and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados for their efforts to support the national schools’ nutrition policy.
She said exercise and nutrition were connected to children’s ability to learn and excel.
Minister McConney added that she wanted neighbouring communities to be active in schools’ health initiatives and encouraged principals to allow residents to have access to school facilities after classes. [email protected]