Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Letter of the Day | Distribute kid-friendly poppies in Jamaican schools

Published:Friday | October 9, 2020 | 12:12 AM


It is an honourable and significant gesture to wear the poppy to show support for Jamaican ex-servicemen and war veterans all over the world who had fought in World Wars I and II. In fact, I applaud the concerted efforts made to raise funds to ensure the welfare of all ex-service personnel at Curphey Home in Newport, Manchester, and other places. With the giving spirit that compassionate children and adults possess, this act of love will perpetually burgeon as the seas of poppies at their resting places.

In my opinion, there is a downfall which has been overlooked and needs urgency in correcting. In the months of October and November each year, thousands of these emblems are distributed in schools, at varying levels of the education system, and that is not a problem. The problem is that the long, pointed ‘common pin’ which is used to attach this beautiful, blood-red, faux flower is a safety hazard. Think about it. Envision small pupils scampering down the corridors or horse-playing with their buddies at recess.

I can see copious, serious injuries from a simple ‘common pin’ – loss of an eye, flesh being punctured unintentionally or intentionally, or a child falling clumsily and receiving a self-inflicted wound. Undoubtedly, a poppy with a pin that is unsafe can result in severe and unnecessary harm.

Let us be proactive by issuing kid-friendly poppies in our schools. I have seen ones with a green or black plastic stem that is relatively safe for children to wear on their clothes or in their hair.

I strongly recommend that those be the ones that are issued to children. It might cost more to make the needed adjustment, but we must make it our mandate to protect children at all cost. We all know the famous Jamaican proverb which says, ‘Betta to be safe dan sarry’.

With all this said, I am respectfully seeking assistance from the newly appointed Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams and the other relevant authorities to swiftly put an end to this safety hazard in Jamaican schools.

Several persons might argue that they have never witnessed an incident or heard of any, but it is ‘never too late for a shower of rain’. How would you feel if you received a telephone call from your child’s school that he/she was pricked by another with the pin from a poppy?

Just as I thought.