Trees for Peace project launched at Mount Salem Primary

Thursday, March 08, 2018

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MOUNT SALEM, St James — The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) in collaboration with Peace and Love in Schools (PALS) and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture launched its Trees for Peace Planting Project as the signature activity for Peace Day on Tuesday.

According to chairman of the VPA, Dr Elizabeth Ward, the initiative kicked off jointly at the Mount Salem Primary and Junior High School in St James and Denham Town Primary School in Kingston, both located in zones of special operations (ZOSOs).

“Currently we are seeking to further engage other schools and institutions across the island to participate in the project. The planting of trees symbolises hope and the continuity of life. The practice of planting trees for peace is a practical way of enhancing environmental and global education,” she disclosed.

Echoing similar sentiments during the ceremony held at Mount Salem Primary and Junior High School in St James, Colleen Wint-Bond, project coordinator for VPA's St James Intervention, stated that the initiative would go a far way in peace building in schools. She challenged students and teachers alike to use the opportunity of developing the peace garden to imagine stories and drawings about what it could look like, and for science enthusiasts to follow the development of their growing trees.

“We would like students to create Peace Gardens that are a safe, clean, and beautiful areas with trees, shrubs and other plants; where students, staff and parents can meet to have dialogue, resolve misunderstandings, or to just relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the garden,” she said.

Representative of the Ministry of Education Patricia Haughton said the ministry was pleased to be partnering in launching the initiative organised to celebrate Peace Day.

Meanwhile, Richard Vernon, councillor of the Montego South Division, and Kerry Thomas, councillor for the Mount Salem Division, both in St James, brought greetings of hope and reiterated the theme of 'Peace Wi Seh' with the children.

Under the initiative, schools across the island were encouraged to designate a space for a 'Peace Garden' to plant trees and shrubbery. The idea behind the creation of a garden is to provide an area for conflict resolution as well as relaxation.

Support and further endorsement for the project has also come from other stakeholders including: Ministry of National Security, CB Facey Foundation, the JN Foundation, Sandals Foundation, Child Protection and Family Services Agency, National Environment and Planning Agency, Forestry Department, and the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.

In the meantime, schools interested in participating in the Trees for Peace Planting Project will be required to share a picture of the area that will be converted into its 'Peace Garden' along with a registration form via email to: no later than Monday, March 26, 2018.

Dr Ward said that in the month of March, selected schools/institutions across the six regions of the Ministry of Education Youth and Information will be engaged and encouraged to share their stories on social media, in an effort to build support from other schools to join the Trees for Peace Planting Project.

“As a commemoration of International Peace Day in September this year, we will recognise schools that have not only kept their gardens alive, but are also able to share how it has impacted their school environment,” she said.

Peace Day activities this year was held under the theme 'Peace Wi Seh'.

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