Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Earth Today | Kiwanis clubs target youths as agents for sustainable development

Published:Thursday | February 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
President Delroy Tomlinson *** Local Caption *** Contributed Photo President Delroy Tomlinson
Kesha Brown
Dwayne Cargill *** Local Caption *** Contributed Photo Dwayne Cargill

THE KIWANIS clubs of North St Andrew and Eastern St Andrew are doing their bit to help improve Jamaica's capacity to cope with a changing climate, and they're tapping into the ingenuity of youth to make it happen.

Yesterday, the clubs launched the Climate Change and Disaster Mitigation Sensitisation project at the Half-Way Tree Primary School in Kingston.

Secretary for Kiwanis North St Andrew, Dwayne Cargill, explained the emergence of the project and its goals.

"The project really was conceptualised by our president, Delroy Tomlinson. His background is in climate change and meteorology. He worked at the Met Service for a while and has retired. The disaster mitigation side came from the president from Eastern St Andrew, Kesha Brown; her background is disaster risk reduction," he said.

"So both clubs came together to pull out the skill sets to develop the programme. [It] will sensitise our service leadership programme, which includes our builders in primary schools and key clubs in high schools and colleges, which is the Circle K," Cargill added.

Thirty-six institutions are to participate, among them the University of the West Indies, the University of Technology, the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, and Excelsior Community College. Others include The Queen's School, Wolmer's Boys' and Girls', Excelsior High, Calabar High, Dunrobin Primary, Shortwood Primary, and Pembrook Hall Primary.

"We want to increase the awareness of the youth about climate change and ... provide the schools with some mitigation strategies to increase their resilience," the secretary noted, explaining one aspect of the project, which he said has won the endorsement of minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Under the initiative, schools will also be tasked with setting up a climate change area and to themselves engage in public awareness, targeting their peers via social media.

At the end of the project in May, they will be judged and awarded a variety of prizes for their efforts. The institution to emerge as number one overall may become the site of a weather station, distinguishing it as a "provider of information for the nation" in its disaster planning, according to Cargill.

The project has a million-dollar budget, the majority of which is expected to be bankrolled by the Kiwanis clubs. The rest, Cargill said, is to come in kind from their collaborators - including the Met Service, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, and the Forestry Department - who will provide resource persons and support for things such as printing.

Ultimately, the club secretary said: "We need our children and young people to contribute to the sustainable development of our country."

Climate change, as evidenced by, among other things, the human-induced warming of the planet, represents a clear and present danger to Jamaica and other small-island states. This is given threats, such as sea-level rise and extreme weather events, including hurricanes and droughts, that could undermine economies while jeopardising lives.