JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Loud cheers and applause filled the room at the Medallion Hall in Kingston, as St. Alban’s Primary and Port Morant Primary schools emerged respective winners of the Ministry of Health’s Zika Public Education and Awareness Selfie and Jingle competitions.
  • Amoya noted that though they were nervous before performing the song, they whispered a word of prayer, and were able to perform the jingle and the accompanying dance move.
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe illness requiring hospitalisation is uncommon.

Loud cheers and applause filled the room at the Medallion Hall in Kingston, as St. Alban’s Primary and Port Morant Primary schools emerged respective winners of the Ministry of Health’s Zika Public Education and Awareness Selfie and Jingle competitions.

Prior to the announcement of the victors, students and teachers from approximately 24 of the island’s primary and secondary schools waited with bated breath for the declaration. Following the announcement, the excitement could not be contained within the room.

The winning jingle will be used as part of the Ministry’s ongoing educational efforts to build the awareness about Jamaicans’ role and responsibility towards minimising the impact of vector-borne diseases in the island. Also, the winning selfie will be used throughout the Ministry’s social media pages.

Some of the other prizes for the champions included desktop computers; and tablet computers for each member of the winning teams. Additionally, all schools that entered the competition were provided with certificates.

In congratulating the winners, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said the quality of the information submitted demonstrated that the message of keeping one’s environment clean to prevent diseases was being adopted.

The Minister’s message was delivered by Director, Health Promotion and Protection Branch in the Ministry, Sonia Copeland, at the ceremony on April 8.

He said the competitions have fostered awareness among the students about the Zika virus, and the steps that schools can take to prevent and destroy mosquito breeding sites.

Dr. Tufton said it is hoped that through these competitions and other strategies employed, the partnerships between the Health and Education Ministries will be further strengthened and the school community more empowered towards creating a health- promoting environment.

He lauded the students, principals and teachers for making the initiative a big part of their school activities.

In her remarks, Special Advisor on Communication and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Sharon Hay Webster said partnerships are vital in promoting positive messages that will lead to behavioural change.

Meanwhile, in an interview with JIS News following the official announcement, Vice Principal, Port Morant Primary, Colin Mullings, said a lot of preparation went into organising the 30-second jingle.

He said the song was created to encourage students at the institution, to actively engage in destroying breeding sites in their environment.

Mr. Mullings, who is also a music teacher, said the entire school population is attuned to the words of the jingle and the associated dance moves that accompany it.

“I think with the school emerging the winner of this competition, it will boost their self-image and actuality they will want to own the achievement and push forward to continue to (keep their surroundings clean),” he said.

He said he felt excited for the children in copping the prize, noting that all their hard work has paid off.

Mr. Mullings said the school will continue to undertake clean-up activities to ensure that their surroundings are free of mosquito breeding sites. He added as well that the school has been awarded several prizes for their cleanliness. “We have won many trophies for the best kept school in Jamaica,” he told JIS News.

The group, which performed the jingle at the awards ceremony, consisted of Shaneika Bleeching and Amoya Wong. Speaking to JIS News, the young ladies expressed delight that they were able to emerge winners. “We are excited and proud of ourselves,” Shaneika said.

Amoya noted that though they were nervous before performing the song, they whispered a word of prayer, and were able to perform the jingle and the accompanying dance move.

The Jingle and Selfie competitions targeted primary and secondary schools across Jamaica to build the awareness of the Zika virus in the island.

The approach was to utilise creative means to engage students and the school community in general, as a means of building awareness in the area of vector prevention and control.

The use of a competition was considered to capture the students’ interest, tap into their creative potential, build awareness and provide an avenue for the appropriate behaviour to be practised.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is found in and around areas where people live, work and play.

The virus is from the same family of viruses as dengue and chikungunya, and share similar symptoms, which include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs.

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe illness requiring hospitalisation is uncommon.