I have been writing about environmental education recently. We can do it in different ways, reaching out to different groups of Jamaicans. Working with schools – teachers as well as students – is an effective way to get the messages out to young people that will hopefully ripple outwards into the surrounding community.
Freetown, Clarendon is just a few miles off Highway 2000 (running east-west), between Old Harbour and Sandy Bay, and just before you turn down the Salt River Road to the coast. It’s not exactly rural, adjoining a large housing development. I have been unable to find out much about the history of the place. I believe that it must be one of those free villages established immediately after Emancipation but cannot find anything to confirm this.
Well, Freetown has been busy on the environmental front recently. The Freetown Primary School, in particular, was pretty lively recently, as it staged its first (and by all accounts, not the last) Cleaner is Greener Expo, centered around Earth Day and focusing on our persistent plastic waste problem. The school is one of several around the highway selected for a Biodiversity Awareness Programme, administered by the Natural History Museum of Jamaica (NHMJ) and funded by Trans Jamaican Highway. As part of the programme, a vegetable garden was established at the school in 2016.
“Freetown was really great!” said Eartha Cole, the Educational Outreach Officer at NHMJ – a division of the Institute of Jamaica. She was impressed by the efforts the school made. Staging such an event was all new to them, and they were excited that they had pulled off the expo. Now, with new-found confidence, they want to do much more. Most importantly, the students became aware of the “7 Rs” (respect, rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse recycle and replenish). They rapped, they performed dub poems, they modeled fashion, they got creative and produced some fancy stuff. The NHMJ and several agencies held informational booths.
There was much for the students to learn. You can get an idea of their enthusiastic (even energetic) participation in the photo gallery below…
Girls will be girls…
Personnel from the Institute of Jamaica and Highway 2000 East-West presenting resources to the Freetown Primary School in Clarendon for biodiversity education and garden maintenance in July, 2017. (Photo: JIS)
Freetown Primary School students with their pretty, 100% recycled material creations. (Photo: NHMJ)
Taking a look at the NHMJ exhibit.
A bit of deejaying going on here, on a recycling theme. (Photo: NHMJ)
Modeling an up cycled bag made from trash. Pretty cool! (Photo: NHMJ)
The energetic students do a dance routine. (Photo: NHMJ)
A highly fashionable audience member looks at various products made from natural Jamaican ingredients. (Photo: NHMJ)
NHMJ Director Tracy Commock (right) and Education Officer Eartha Cole, checking out the school vegetable garden. (Photo: NHMJ)
Studying one of the Natural History Museum’s displays of medicinal plants. (Photo: NHMJ)
A student takes a closer look at a bottle of medicinal herbs. (Photo: NHMJ)
On the catwalk in an upcycled outfit.
A dramatic performance. Note the broom, the bin and plastic bottle. (Photo: NHMJ)