The importance of safeguarding the environment was underscored by Executive Director of the Jamaica Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Dr. Carey Wallace at the official opening of a computer room furnished with 27 laptops and other computer equipment valued at $2.5 million to the Holland High School on Tuesday July 3, 2018. The computer room has also been outfitted with a projector and screen with surround sound.
Dr. Wallace challenged the high school students who collectively earned the reward by placing first in the recent TEF-sponsored Sustainable Destination Alliance of the Americas (SDAA) recycling competition in the Falmouth area, to become ambassadors for recycling.
“You students have a responsibility that is bigger than yourselves, because you are trying to change a pattern of behavior that’s been habitual over generations and here you are now, the enlightened ones, needing to influence your own parents, your own community to change their habits and start practicing the new habit,” he told a gathering of students and invited guests.
Reminding them that it was their country and their future that was being protected, he underscored that “it is in your interest to make sure you are ambassadors for that change, so I charge you to think beyond just the school, the competition and in your own communities and try to influence the people around you.”
Over 4,000 students from five schools participated in the Falmouth leg of the competition, with the tagline, “Go Green and Win Big” aimed at engaging children and broadening the reach of solid waste management in Falmouth. Although not using plastic bottles on its campus, led by their Tourism Action Club Coordinator Aishea Lawrence Reid, Holland High collected more than 50 percent of the total of 247 bags of plastic bottles weighing 1,694 pounds in and around their community over four weekends.
Dr. Wallace who said he was very impressed by the cleanliness and ambiance of the school, the show of hospitality by students and staff, assured them that “Falmouth, and Trelawny overall, is going to be the model for Jamaica.” Having emerged as a resort town, he said much attention was being given to uplifting the infrastructure in Falmouth but money was not all and was up to the people to make it happen.
In his greeting read by Chief Executive Officer of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation, Mayor of Falmouth Collen Gager also shared the view that “Holland is a force to be reckoned with since its inception in 2004” and winning the recycling competition was just one of its many achievements.
Chairman of the Holland High School Board, Fr Carl F. Clarke lauded the positive image built up by the school with its accomplishments in such a short time, noting that the school entered the competition to do good for the community and winning was in keeping with its hallmark of excellence. Trelawny Custos Hon Paul Muschett also commended the Ministry of Tourism for running the recycling program and had high praises for Holland High on winning.
Support for the competition was also received from Recycle Jamaica, the Organization of American States, the Trelawny Municipal Corporation, National Solid Waste Management Authority and the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce.
With its partners, the TEF also sponsored recycling competitions in Negril and Treasure Beach and participating schools in all three areas collected a total of over 275,400 plastic bottles.
Among participants in the ceremony, moderated by Marline Stephenson Dalley, were Deputy Head Girl Keryce Dookie, Assistant Vice Principal Dale Evans and a group of students doing a medley of songs promoting the importance of recycling. Also in attendance were Manager of the Falmouth Port, Mark Hylton, Principal Pauline Reid and Board member Mark Campbell.