Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Westwood wins competition

Published:Saturday | April 25, 2015 | 4:00 AMPaul H Williams
A section of Westwood High School Tourism Action Club Research Day winning project.

STEWART TOWN, Trelawny:

IN AUGUST last year, the Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET), supported by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, launched its Clean Coasts Project.

The aim of the project is to address the issue of poor solid-waste management in Jamaica. Select Tourism Action clubs in schools, managed through the Tourism Awareness Unit of the Jamaica Tourist Board, were targeted to help fulfil the aim, and to spread the clean coasts message in schools.

To this end, JET spearheaded a research day competition called 'Where the Waste Goes', among the select TACs. The objectives of the competition included: providing students with opportunities to learn about solid waste issues relevant to Jamaica; illustrating how poor solid-waste management can affect tourism; introducing students to the technique of conducting research.

On Wednesday, April 22, seven Tourism Action Clubs from across the island presented their research at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew. After the projects were judged, there was an awards ceremony in which Moneague College in St Ann was the winner in the tertiary institutions section, while Westwood High School in Stewart Town, Trelawny, was the most outstanding high school, with their entry called 'Garbage ravages Half Moon Bay'.

Path to victory

After the presentations, Rural Xpress spoke with two members of staff and a student from Westwood about their victory and the path towards it. We found out that they had really come a long way. The school has been familiar with the situation at Half Moon Bay, Trelawny for 10 years, as it is one of the areas they are studying for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) school-based assessments (SBA).

But, "We were appalled at the situation when we went this February to do our CSEC SBA for ecology and CAPE environmental studies. We found that the area was so heavily damaged by garbage, and so we decided that this should be something that we participate in, and we called JET," explained Winsome Lawson, biology teacher and participant.

So, the school, located on a hill far from the bay, embarked upon ridding the beach of the garbage, which included about 3,000 plastic bottles. "And they were there for such a long time that they were flattened," Lawson said. It was her idea that Westwood should focus on Half Moon Bay for the research competition, and the school has won because, "of the principle of research, we fully understood it, and we integrated it within our regular school activities".

Though the school was assisted by the Trelawny Parish Council with the cleaning up of the beach, there were several challenges. One was that the students are all girls, and so the school had to employ other people to remove the garbage that was "embedded" in the sand and the mangroves.

They were promised animals feed bags to collect the refuse, but when they were ready, the bags were stolen. Also, they had to leave the garbage that is deposited way into the lagoon. There were also transport costs to cover since the school is not near the site of the project. However, they got funding from JET to offset those costs.

But, Lawson said their efforts are not over. "We are not finished with the area. It's not about a competition. We want a maintenance of the area ... One, it is a very beautiful place, this is a tourist area as well, we saw several residential homes, it is of high educational value to the study of ecology at the CSEC and CAPE levels," Lawson said.

Student Deana Dunkley is also "elated" and "overjoyed". Teamwork is what she attributed the victory to, and has only praises for her team members. "They worked hard, and I want to thank them ... I actually though we had a really good chance," she said.

rural@gleanerjm.com