Health, environment quiz a success in St Mary
Students from Free Hill Primary and Infant School in St Mary were celebrating last week after winning the local health department's annual health and environment quiz competition.
The contest, which featured students from the parish's primary and junior high schools, was held to celebrate World Environment Day and aimed to utilise young people's enthusiasm and energy to help inform local communities about how to reduce the spread of environmental diseases.
St Mary Health Department's acting port health and quarantine officer, Roxanne Valentine-Donegan, told Rural Xpress: "Today was the finals of our health education quiz competition, which is an exciting and different way of disseminating important health information that the community should know about.
"We thought it would be best passed on to the children, who would absorb the information and pass it on to their parents; and we are hoping this would create the behaviour change that we are looking for.
Health month focus
"This year, we focused on yellow fever, scabies, and Guillain-BarrÈ syndrome, which is a serious side effect of the Zika virus. We also included our nutritionist, the importance of water quality, and we brought in depression, because that was our focus for health month.
"We think it's important to target young people because they are like sponges absorbing information; and we think they are the best vehicles at this time to disseminate the information because, once they start good practices from an early age, they will become more responsible adults.
"So we start from this age, but also hope they will speak to and impact their parents because, sometimes, parents listen to their children and do what they say because they want to do something positive for them to emulate. We are focusing on them so that, in accordance with our Vision 2030 goals, we would get that behaviour change and cut down on the amount of diseases affecting us."
Free Hill Primary's team captain, Shaquana Kenyon, praised the St Mary Health Department for hosting the competition, which was held under the theme 'Connecting People to Nature'. She said: "It feels great right now because we worked hard and deserve to have won the competition. I think the most important thing we learned is that we really need to keep our environment clean, because it helps us to stay healthy."
The team's coach and the school's grade-six teacher, Rayon Grandison, added: "We have been at it daily and the students have gone above and beyond, dedicating many hours of training, even at home. We have had activities at school that have hindered them from practising as a team from time to time, but nevertheless, they were able to get it done one-on-one."