Thousands of students to benefit from community service project 

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The programme integrates recycling, volunteering, and tree planting into students' daily lives (Photos contributed)
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Local NGO Good Humans 268 Inc has partnered with the Sandals Foundation and GEF Small Grants Programme for a student community service project to engage 17,000 students in environmental conservation and disability awareness.

The pilot programme was initiated at All Saints Secondary School.

At the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year, the organisation was able to plant more than 200 trees and recycle over 30,000 bottles and cans. As of the 2023-2024 academic year, all private and public schools and seven organisations are participating.

The project was launched on February 12 and the organisation will be working together with other entities throughout the year and beyond to encourage environmental stewardship among young people and reduce plastic and metal pollution in Antigua.

Good Humans 268 Inc aims to educate Antiguans and Barbudans on waste management and reduction through recycling initiatives. The programme, endorsed by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, has seen the placement of recycling bins in all 82 public and private schools across the island.

The goal is the recycling of 85,000 aluminium cans and 765,000 plastic bottles, and the creation of employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities through the year-long project.

Joshuanette Francis, President of Good Humans 268, said that 20 disabled persons will work directly with Good Humans 268. The contents from the bins will be sorted and then sent to other recycling initiatives on the island – WISH Foundation, the Plastic Waste Free Islands Initiative and the Antigua and Barbuda Waste Recycling Corporation.

The community service programme integrates recycling, volunteering, and tree planting into students’ daily lives from kindergarten (age 5) to Form Five (age 16). By actively participating in these initiatives, students receive practical training with hopes of inspiring change in their approach to caring for the environment. A key mandate of the project is showcasing that people with disabilities play a vital role in climate action. 

The goal, says Francis, is to cultivate students’ sense of responsibility, awareness, and commitment to environmental conservation.

“The programme aims to bring positive changes to the environment while providing employment and training opportunities for persons with disabilities,” she explained.

“Environmental awareness and sustainability are crucial aspects of education in today’s world. Students will be taught the connection between climate action and persons with disabilities. The programme is a multifaceted initiative that combines different aspects to create a holistic and highly beneficial approach to environmental conservation.”

The Sandals Foundation, for its part, has invested US$48,000 in the project, a commitment David Latchimy, General Manager at Sandals Antigua, says shows the unwavering commitment that Sandals Resorts International and its philanthropic arm have to environmental stewardship and building a sustainable future.

“Waste management stands as a significant challenge in our region – one that requires a collaborative effort from all sectors of society. At the Sandals Foundation, we champion the three Rs of conservation: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. These principles guide our environmental initiatives, driving us to minimise waste and maximise sustainability,” Latchimy said.

“Central to our mission is empowering individuals with the knowledge and resources to participate actively in recycling efforts. Environmental education is key in the development of environmental stewards. Through education and outreach programs, we equip our communities with the tools needed to make a meaningful impact on our environment,” he continued.

Natalya Lawrence, from the GEF Small Grants Programme says, “GEF SGP – UNDP believes that small local actions multiply, ultimately having a global reach in their impact. We are pleased to work through this project to effect behaviour change in our youth towards the care of our natural environment.

“Through direct interaction with nature and hands-on actions to improve our surroundings, this project ensures that young people embrace the responsibility to safeguard a healthy future.”

The GEF Small Grants Programme was established in 1992. Through this programme, and organisations like Good Humans 268, they have been able to enhance their capacity and bring about positive change across the country. Good Humans has been granted US$50,000 for this project, one of the three plastic projects that the GEF Small Grants Programme – Antigua and Barbuda is currently financing in the country.

The essential aim is to educate and involve students, motivating them to take on the role of proactive guardians of the environment. It is in harmony with the global sustainable development goals set by the United Nations and holds the promise of boosting the island’s tourism industry, and future workforce, while highlighting how individuals with disabilities are essential in the fight against climate change. 

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