Young Abaconian Shares Honors for Environmental Stewardship
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Three young Bahamians were crowned winners of the Ministry of Environment and Housing’s Be A Hero campaign.
The students from Adelaide Primary and St. Cecilia Catholic schools, and a student from St. Frances de Sales in Abaco were decorated with Superman capes and trophies during a ceremony hosted by Atlantis on October 31.
“We launched the Be A Hero campaign last November searching for environmental heroes, using an approach that was fun and light-hearted to deliver a serious message – that the environment is everyone’s personal responsibility and that responsibility begins when you are young,” said Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira.
“If we are going to truly protect and preserve our environment, if we are serious about saving this beautiful country called The Bahamas in the face of the increasing pace of climate change, we have to start with sensitizing the generation that will inherit this land.
“Today I am thrilled to say that the results we saw during the months of the campaign and the interest and enthusiasm we witnessed as we went from school to school was incredibly reassuring and heartwarming.
Ferreira added: “It renewed my faith that the environment of The Bahamas has champions and many of the best are still in primary school.”
The Minister and team, including the marketing firms that partnered to develop the program, visited 19 primary and junior high schools in New Providence over several months, sharing information about conservation and preservation.
They focused on the importance of protecting natural resources, explained the relationship between litter and crime and challenged students to come up with ideas to improve their community or school grounds.
Students, classrooms or entire schools submitted their ideas and plans to social media pages. Winning entries were judged on creativity and impact.
“I am excited to name Adelaide Primary and St. Cecilia schools that demonstrated they are true environmental heroes,” said Ferreira.
“We were blown away by Adelaide where every single student participated in a program, delivered grade by grade through poetry, readings, performances and charts, showing how deeply they cared and how much they knew and culminating in the planting of a banana tree with the assistance of the spouse of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Patricia Minnis.
“It was clear that at Adelaide Primary students took the entire picture of the environment seriously and were very proud of their school grounds and the surrounding area they cared for and nurtured.”
St. Cecilia was equally impressive, said the minister.
“Young Olivia Cambridge, her younger brother, DeMarco Darville (from First Step Academy) and their helper TaRon Thompson, took it upon themselves to lead a school-wide effort to clean up the streets all around the school grounds,” said Ferreira.
“We watched as they put on sanitary gloves, took large trash bags and spread out like a marching army of waste managers. And they did it day after day. The sidewalks were spotless. You could have had a picnic around the school and you wouldn’t dare leave a trace behind.”
The other winner, 9-year-old Elrine Bongon, was a student at St. Frances de Sales in Abaco who followed the program online and took it upon himself to find scrap plywood, prime and paint ‘Please do not litter our beaches’ signs.
Bongon took one of the signs to a town council meeting, urging adults to follow the advice and with his parents’ help, erected signs on South Abaco beaches urging everyone using the beach to keep it clean.
Displaced by Hurricane Dorian, Elrine is now in school in Nassau where he found himself in the same classroom as another winner, Olivia Cambridge, both now at Aquinas.
Asked if he thought his signs had made a difference in people’s behavior, Elrine said they did.
“I definitely saw a decrease in the amount of litter on the beaches so I think the signs were very effective,” said the young Bongon.
“We wanted to reach young people in a way they would relate to so we engaged their heroes – athletes like Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Buddy Hield, Jonquel Jones, Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown, and performers like Wendy and Dyson Knight,” said Sarah Kirkby, Barefoot Marketing, and Diane Phillips, Diane Phillips & Associates who partnered in the project. “We also wanted them to appreciate the civic leaders so we were very pleased when Nancy Kelly and Ed Fields agreed to be quiet heroes, delivering the message of leadership by example.”
Long-reigning former Tribune publisher Mrs. Eileen Carron was also honored with a giant Superman in thanks the Tribune Media Group’s corporate sponsorship.
“Other sponsors honored for their support included Atlantis, a silver sponsor, AML Foods – Solomon’s, Bahamas Hot Mix, Bahamas Waste Limited, Bahamas Wholesale Agencies, Commonwealth Brewery, Kelly’s Home Centre, McDonald’s Restaurants, Subway Sandwiches and Salads, Seaside Media Limited, The Sign Man, Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Education.”