Peace in schools through tree planting
More than 100 schools and institutions across the island registered to receive trees since the launch of the Trees for Peace Project. The Trees for Peace initiative was launched on National Peace Day (March 6, 2018) by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) and the C.B. Facey Foundation, supported by a multi-agency technical working group.
The trees are to be planted on school grounds in the name of peace and hope for Jamaica's children. Each registered school received one national tree, a flowering tree, and a fruit tree.
A team from Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI), also a partner, delivered scores of trees to schools in the eastern half of the island as part of the first annual Trees For Peace Project. MGI will also assist the VPA in the planning and execution of the next phases of the project.
Interest in the initiative led to its expansion to include a Peace Garden Competition in which 30 schools participated in September. On World Mental Health Day (celebrated on October 10), an awards ceremony was held at the winning school - Prospect Primary in Danvers Pen, St Thomas. Representatives from the multi-agency group travelled with the VPA to celebrate and honour the outstanding efforts made by the staff, students, and surrounding community of Prospect Primary School in the creation of their peace garden.
Dr Elizabeth Ward, chair of the VPA, explained the efforts of this initiative, stating that "the message is one of strong roots, well-watered branches reaching up to the sky.
"We need strong characters to survive the harsh conditions that we often face. Peace on earth does not alone depend on us having a secure living environment, but also involves us working together to resolve conflicts. So we need to keep these green, clean, and quiet spaces in our lives."
Underscoring the fact that trees are a symbol of hope, Dr Ward said, "We want to make sure you are planting hope in your life, for a better place and a better space; and to leave a legacy of peace for all our Jamaican children."
REGISTRATION OPENS SOON
Registration for next year's Trees For Peace Initiative and the associated Peace Garden Competition will be open in the next coming weeks, as schools have eagerly been contacting the VPA to become a part of these efforts. MGI, which has recently allocated office space in its building for ongoing use by the VPA, plans to continue working with the VPA on this and other projects. In fact, the strategic partnership between the two dates back 12 years and is aimed at supporting the VPA's 'Think-and-Do Tank' mantra, focusing not only on policy, but also on the implementation of viable social interventions.
Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr of MGI said the institute has always been happy to support the VPA in its mission with its applications and results-oriented posture.
"We have been a part of their journey, not just with Trees for Peace, but also their Learning NetWorks initiative, as well as their Cost for Care study. All of these go beyond normal crime-intervention programmes, and have built upon the collective works of many different stakeholders, both locally and internationally. We are glad to be a part of that team."