Festival Queen Spearheads Project at Mountain View Primary School

Photo: Contributed The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Miss Kingston and St Andrew 2016 Festival Queen, Shanique Shand (centre) and students of Mountain View Primary School on their way to plant a tree at the school. Occasion was the recent launch ceremony for Project Cultural and Environment Outreach (CEO).

Story Highlights

  • More than 700 students and their teachers of the Mountain View Primary School, in Kingston, will benefit from a cultural and environmental project, spearheaded by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Miss Kingston and St Andrew 2016 Festival Queen, Shanique Shand.
  • Called Project Cultural and Environmental Outreach (CEO), it aims to inspire positive change through cultural awareness and environmental responsibility.
  • Since the launch of the project in October, Miss Shand says several partners have come on board to assist with its execution. She mentions the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Forestry Department, the National Solid Waste Management Authority, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Eyeland Eyewear and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which has offered to engage the students in a Climate Walk to bring awareness to climate change.

More than 700 students and their teachers of the Mountain View Primary School, in Kingston, will benefit from a cultural and environmental project, spearheaded by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Miss Kingston and St Andrew 2016 Festival Queen, Shanique Shand.

Called Project Cultural and Environmental Outreach (CEO), it aims to inspire positive change through cultural awareness and environmental responsibility.

It will be driven through the school’s cultural and environmental clubs, with activities such as essay and poster competitions, quizzes, awards, clean-up and tree-planting exercises, farming and tours of heritage sites.

“As a society, I believe that we don’t have enough appreciation for the natural environment and the natural treasures that we have as a country, and so I am trying to re-ignite that passion, especially in the young people,” Miss Shand tells JIS News,

She notes that the project will also impact their lives “holistically, particularly in the areas of values, attitudes and social skills”.

Since the launch of the project in October, Miss Shand says several partners have come on board to assist with its execution. She mentions the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Forestry Department, the National Solid Waste Management Authority, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Eyeland Eyewear and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which has offered to engage the students in a Climate Walk to bring awareness to climate change.

Individuals and friends have also pledged to donate cash prizes and gift baskets for winners of the various competitions, she adds.

In an effort to preserve Jamaica’s cultural heritage, the Festival Queen will be hosting a Miss and Mr. Mountain View Primary School Cultural King and Queen Competition, scheduled to take place at the end of the school year.

“This will allow the students to expose their talent. It is a replica of the Festival Queen, but it will incorporate the boys to give them a sense of belonging and expose their talent and to have that sense of purpose,” she explains.

Another important aspect of the project is a waste-management system on the school grounds. Apart from helping the students to be responsible stewards of the environment, Miss Shand says it will help to minimise the number of plastic bottles in the environment.

She adds that it is important that the children develop an awareness of the garbage and its impact on the environment and how it can be reused and made into useful items.

The Festival Queen says six bins, donated by Eyeland Eyewear for the collection of plastic bottles, have been installed at the school.

“They will now have to separate their garbage, so they will have to mentally think about what kind of garbage they are disposing. Is it bottle? Is it paper? And which garbage bin should I put it in.

So, the students are very much aware of what they have to do,” she notes.

Miss Shand, who is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in Zoology and Food Chemistry, says the kitchen garden established at the school will supply the school’s canteen with fresh vegetables. She says that RADA is assisting with seedlings.

Asked about the long-term management of the project, Miss Shand points out that various aspects of the project will be sustained by the school and members of the clubs.

“I am having dialogue with them because I believe that an important aspect of any project is sustainability,” she adds.

According to Miss Shand, Project CEO was born when she decided to enter the Miss Festival Queen Competition for Kingston and St Andrew and needed to propose a community project. The implementation of community projects by Festival Queens is a requirement of the JCDC competition.

The Festival Queen says it was easy selecting Mountain View Primary as a beneficiary because of her close bond with the students, developed through a mentorship programme she had done at the school.

“I do believe the school is worthy of my investment and attention. I have developed a bond through mentorship, and I saw that these children are really special. They have a lot of potential,” she notes.

Principal of the Mountain View Primary School, Michelle Robinson, tells JIS News that the project idea was readily accepted by the school, since it aims to heighten awareness of culture and the environment and how both are co-dependent.

“Oftentimes when we have projects, there is the thinking that you would make it purely environmental and purely cultural, but this is different, this is unique and I think that it is time we realise that we cannot separate one from the other,” she says.

Ms. Robinson notes that the kitchen garden at the school is already reaping success. “We had pak choi already and we sold that and were able to buy more plants. We have callaloo, cabbage and corn. So it is pretty good,” she adds.

While admitting that the recycling project is not where it should be, Miss Robinson says students no longer dump their garbage in one bin.

“Usually, we just gather everything and dump. Now we are actually getting them to be more conscious about the need to preserve by recycling. They are more aware of the fact that we can reuse our plastic bottles, so we are separating,” she informs.

Miss Robinson says members of the Culture and Environmental Clubs are playing major roles in the implementation of the project, noting that their coordinators will be working closely with Miss Shand to sustain the project.

Additionally, she says the school has been getting support from community members, who have been invited to assist in maintaining the kitchen garden.

The principal described the project as an “excellent idea” and hopes it will be expanded to other schools.

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