BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas (ESB) National Operator, Kevin Glinton, travelled to Abaco and Grand Bahama last week to resume onsite ESB Green Flag renewal assessments of the Eco-Schools programme. Abaco’s Every Child Counts, Forest Heights Academy, Hope Town Primary School, Man-O-War Primary School, Freeport’s Bishop Michael Eldon School, and Lucaya International School were all successful in renewing their Green Flag status.
The Eco-Schools Green Flag is recognized globally as a symbol of excellence for environmental education and practice and is renewed every two years.
ESB National Steering Committee members Nakira Wilchombe, and Rashema Ingraham of Keep Grand Bahama Clean conducted assessments in Grand Bahama. And Lianna Burrows and Lyndeisha Curry of Abacos’ Friends of the Environment evaluated schools in the Abacos. According to Man -O-War Primary School 8-year-old Grade 3 student, Titus Reckley, “I feel great because this is my first time being here to receive a Green Flag. We worked hard to achieve our 5th Green Flag. Eco Club has helped me learn to care for my environment and taught me how to plant seeds. Eco Club has been very helpful for my peers, and I enjoy the Eco Schools Programme. I can’t wait to start new projects!”
“It’s a perfect example that small numbers can still do great things and benefit a community. I’m extremely proud of our small school on Man-O-War Cay making a difference internationally. I like that it instils the importance, understanding, and skills in sustainability- especially growing your own natural foods,” said Mrs. Charmaine Albury, Teacher, and Eco-Committee Member.
“This programme has allowed students, staff and community to increase their love for the environment and be more aware of their actions.” – Miss Tanesha Saunders, Man-O-War Primary Eco-Schools Coordinator.
Accepting the award on behalf of her school and community, Mrs. Deborah Clarke, Man-O-War Primary’s Principal stated, “The children’s commitment to reducing waste, conserving energy, and practices promoting healthy living is commendable. ‘Let’s Go Green Bahamas!’ The changes that are made today will make a better Bahamas for us tomorrow.”
Ms. Ellen Hardy, Eco-Schools Coordinator at Every Child Counts, said, “Environmental education is the key to success. Once we established our Action Plan, we were able to involve all the students and teachers in reaching our goals making this a school wide project. Qualifying for our 5th Green Flag is something all of us at ECC are very proud of.”
Elated Intermediate ECC ECO Committee member, Raymond said. “The Green Flag reminds me of green smoothies. It means the drink is healthy. The Green Flag means a healthy school.”
In additional to being awarded its sixth consecutive Green Flag award, Hope Town Primary School received the Eco-Schools Bahamas Certificate of Merit for “For outstanding contribution to the Eco- Schools Bahamas programme, achieving six consecutive Green Flag awards, and showing commitment towards Excellence in Environmental Education and Environmental Stewardship in the school and the wider community.”
During their rebuilding after hurricane Dorian, Forest Heights Academy included the installation of solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels. Rotchenska Alexie, FHA grade 11 student, and Eco-club vice president said, “I joined Eco Club at my school so I could help inspire children to engage in important environmental projects and activities.” According to Mrs. Lindsey Rees, FHA Eco-club coordinator, “In the reopening and rebuilding of FHA this year, I am thrilled that in our projects we achieved our 5 th Green Flag. It’s wonderful to see the Green Flag fly again to serve as a reminder to the students to carry out the values and eco-practices we try to
Reflecting on BREEF’s 30th anniversary this year, and ESB programme’s contribution to BREEF’s mission, Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, said, “These young people are an inspiration to others around the country and around the world as they embrace sustainability in our island nation and put their new-found knowledge into action to protect the land and the sea in their own communities.”
Rihanna Smith, Grade 12, Bishop Michael Eldon School stated, “Being a member of the Eco-Schools program has helped me to gain a better understanding on environmental issues and creating innovative solutions for them. The renewal of my school’s green flag validates our commitment and work and motivates me to continue to pursue change in my nation.”
“Achieving the Green flag status is both an honour and a privilege to us as a school. It strengthens our commitment to provide our students an avenue to take an active role in protecting our environment,” said Mrs. Selim-Dela Peña, BMES, Eco-Schools coordinator. ESB National Operator, Kevin Glinton said, “I am extremely proud of all the Eco-Schools in Abaco and Grand Bahama for their outstanding resilience in sustaining the Eco-Schools programme despite the two major setbacks of the last three years; hurricane Dorian and the pandemic.”
To date, BREEF’s ESB network is spread over six islands and consists of 18 government and 25 private schools. Since 2009 the BREF has been running the ESB programme free of charge through the generous support of many BREEF donors including The Sean Connery Foundation and the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative.