Cassava Piece creates peace garden on Labour Day
There was a tree-planting collaboration between the Cassava Piece Development and Education Centre (CPDEC) and the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) during Labour Day activities last week.
Residents, volunteers, members from the CPDEC and a team from the VPA converged on the popular learning centre to plant trees as part of the VPA's Trees for Peace initiative.
Speaking at the tree-planting exercise, Dr Elizabeth Ward, chair of the VPA, said that it was only fitting to collaborate with the centre as it was a "constant force" in the community, bringing together all the young people and infusing them with a sense of volunteerism and peace.
"We, at the VPA incorporate the concept of a learning network, which is, any centre that we are working with becomes part of our learning network and we try to assist them. Our latest initiative is to put peace gardens in our learning network centres and that is how this centre fits in," she explained.
The residents and volunteers planted an ornamental tree (lignum vitae); a fruit tree (cherry) and a tree for shade (jacaranda) at the rear of the centre, courtesy of the VPA.
For Germany-born founder of the centre, Dr Birte Timm, the occasion was welcomed as it brought attention to the significant value of the centre to not only the community, but also to others outside of the community as far as St Thomas, St Mary and St Catherine.
The centre, which is undergoing restructuring, has proven to be a lifeline for many, providing a homework programme, parenting workshops, Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) classes, computer classes, among several other programmes.
"We offer CSEC classes for the young adults free of charge, and we have 30 to 50 children who benefit from the classes. Persons who assist are volunteers from Constant Spring Junior High School and from the community," she said. With the homework programme, the centre provides guidance to some 70 children daily.
Oneal Morrison, CPDEC volunteer and mathematics teacher at the Constant Spring Primary and Junior High School, has been associated with the centre since 2005. He said: "The centre gives them an opportunity to get away from negative things. We try to get the children to socialise in a positive environment. The centre has definitely contributed to peace in the community." He added that further funding was required to boost the work of the centre.
Meanwhile, some 110 schools and learning centres across the island have registered to participate in the VPA's Trees for Peace initiative.