Since the start of the Climate Compliance Conference, a big focus has been placed on environmental education. This type of education opens a whole new door of thinking and facilitates questions such as, what is Global Warming and Climate Change, how can we the people get involved, and what are the solutions to dealing with important contemporary issues.
Hundreds of lessons have been taught across the islands in preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, technical schools, correctional facilities, Rotary & Lions Clubs, churches, business groups, youth groups, community groups, and to farmers. Several Radio and TV stations have aired programs about the reasons for climate change and newspapers and magazines have published a number of articles.
Twice a year we publish our own newspaper with tips on sustainable living, voices from Vincentians on climate-related issues and interviews with professionals about the impact of climate change on our small island nation.
Articles and programs on Climate Compliance in St. Vincent have been published and broadcast in several countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe.
Thousands of visitors have been to the Academy over the years, taking tours of our organic garden and observing our self-sustainable lifestyle. We have given numerous tours to single persons and organized groups, during big events like the annual Earth Day and whenever we have visitors: schools, activists and tourists. We are happy to open our center to visitors from abroad as well.
Along with our partners, including different activists groups all over the island, we have made public events in the capital city of Kingstown, going out to the public with our message, talking to people on the streets and organizing big actions. We take part in festivals, conferences and exhibitions that bring awareness of climate change and healthy living. We annually join the Breadfruit Festival, a holiday to celebrate Vincentian culture and local customs and food.
Education and awareness are key components to mobilize people in making St. Vincent a climate compliant nation and thus ready for climate change.
We started the Climate Compliance Conference in 2012 with a campaign "Let's Talk Green". We talked to 250 people in 5 North Leeward villages to find out how to start off the ten year action conference. People knew the climate was changing but not everyone knew why. We knew that we had to do something to get ready for climate change.
After several discussions and workshops we decided to start with reducing pollution and cleaning up the beaches, rivers and streets, along with giving lessons in schools, clubs, churches, colleges and door to door.
The lesson topics were: Global Warming is Serious, What is the Greenhouse Effect?, Why do we Burn Fossil Fuels, Advantages of Organic Gardening, Healthy Living, Renewable Energy and Waste Reduction.
We prepared a special campaign to focus on teaching in the schools in North Leeward. During 2012, 40 lessons were given in the Chateaubelair Methodist School, in Fitz Hughes Government School, Petit Bordel Secondary School, Rose Hall Government School, Troumaca Ontario Secondary School, Troumaca Government School and West-Wood Methodist School Coulls Hill.
In total, 80 students received 5 lessons from March till September, effectively kicking off the conference and putting the seeds of environmental thinking in the heads of the youth.
Radio stations like WE FM, Nice Radio, Star FM, Praise FM, Hitz FM, Garifuna Radio and the NBC Radio have aired programs to bring awareness about climate change and what it means to be climate compliant.
Since 2011, Radio Grenadines has provided a source of written online news and community articles, music, and an opportunity for people to learn new skills. After years of operating online, Radio Grenadines saw the need for community engagement. They envisioned conducting interviews, having people in communities assist with hosting talk shows, and bringing a positive impact on the environment. Together with Richmond Vale Academy Radio Grenadines decided to undertake a 1-year awareness project.
Radio Grenadines’ aim for the project is to help people understand the impact of global warming today and increase "climate literacy" among young people, as well as provide information on other environmental topics. Education is an essential element of the global response to climate change. It helps people understand and address the impact of global warming, encourage changes in their attitudes and behavior and help them adapt to climate change-related trends.
To reach those goals, during 2015 Radio Grenadines decided to conduct 80 talk shows addressing climate change and several other environmental topics, as well as train persons in broadcasting. The Radio partnered with Richmond Vale Academy to research and prepare 20 environmental fact sheets along with questions and answers to be used by the hosts to conduct live talk shows.
Some of the program topics include:
1. Climate Change Basics: What is meant by the term Climate Change and its causes.
2. Impacts of Climate Change on the following: Sea Level Rise, Extreme Weather, Ecosystems & Wildlife, Air Quality, Ozone Depletion, Human Health, Agriculture, Marine Environment, Availability of Fresh Water, Energy and other issues affecting small island nations.
3. Climate Change Adaptation: Protective (guarding against negative impacts of climate change), and Opportunistic (taking advantage of any beneficial effects of climate change).
4. Climate Change Mitigation: Efforts that can reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. These can include using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behavior.
The Climate Compliance Conference tries to reach out to as many people as it can. Sometimes we go to another side of the island, driving for hours just to spread our message in far away communities, and sometimes we even go to other islands of our beautiful country. For example during the Treelympics we engaged as many Vincy schools as possible, even those on the farthest, most remote islands. Another time one of our teams went to Bequia to teach children about recycling and nutrition.
Three schools took part in the project: a school for handicapped children, a preschool and a primary school. Our activists had prepared some games in order to teach the students in a fun way, keeping them interested in the lessons while gaining valuable knowledge. We’ve arranged and impromptu bowling games with paper-made balls and plastic bottles; it was a huge success among the kids and the message clearly went through: instead of throwing everything away, we can re-use even the most inconspicuous items in interesting ways. The lesson was fun both for the students and for the RVA activists.
Teaching in the preschool turned out to be a little more difficult, with children as young as 3 having difficulty paying attention. Thankfully, the plan was well-prepared and soon everyone participated in games with fruits and veggies as main actors. There were age-appropriate quizzes and some fun drawing activities.
As a reminder to live healthy and protect the environment, the schools received some moringa trees to plant on their terrain. In the words of Robin, one of the participants:
...it was a great experience working with different ages and different schools. It was also a lot of fun and generally, it reminded me again how important it is to teach children already in the beginning of their lives about recycling and healthy eating, simply living with our environment and not against it.
There are many ways of reaching the public, some more literal, like writing articles or going on a radio, while others include sharing our innermost feelings through poetry or visual arts. In RVA we have a variety of activists with different interests and strengths. That makes our small international community that much more interesting and ensures that our impact is very diverse, because there’s no set program and the students are only limited by their creativity in realizing their projects.
Three of our students have decided to reach the public with their environmental message through art. They have painted three murals on the wall of a primary school in the nearest village – Fitz Hughes. The form of a mural (wall painting) seemed the most reasonable one since the message would be shared with both the students and the rest of the community – a set of three big paintings cover the school walls facing the main street in the village, where people pass multiple times a day.
Here’s what the artists themselves say about their project:
What do we understand when we talk about art?
We can answer this question with very diverse opinions and none of them would be wrong, because art comes from our inner nature, it is a product of our imagination and creativity. It means that as our imagination, it is infinite.
In our opinion, the work of the artist is contemplating the reality in which we live and sending a message that can question our daily lives, our habits, and even our beliefs; in a way that can keep the attention of many spectators.
So art can be a message, coming from within us, a message that comes with a new perspective, and of course, with the mission of improving or making an effect, little or big in our life.
Why did we decide to make our art in a school?
Because we believe that education, especially when it is for kids, is like planting a seed; that at some point it will bring fruit... only time will say if our art and what we wanted to share was worthy.
We decided that wall painting was the most accurate technique for us to represent the message we wanted to share with the kids in the school and with all the people; that at some point during the day they pass by the school walls. We chose this place because we have been living in Richmond for the past six months and Fitz Hughes is like our second home. We thought it would be fair to give something to this place that already gave us a lot of joy and reasons to smile.
Principal of Fitz Hughes Government School Mr. Robertson liked the idea of approaching environmental awareness in a different way, in which human search for freedom is reflected as a spiritual connection with environment.
What is the bird? What does this bird represent in our life? What are we keeping in a cage; taking away from it all the possibilities to be free? Is it our creativity, our freedom to dream? Is it our mind? Is it our heart?
Watch the video from creating the art and figure it out for yourself!
Members of the Fancy Vegetable Farmers Cooperative in Agricultural Region Three interacted with people from RVA during a visit to North Leeward.
Over the years, farmers in Fancy (the last village on the Windward side of St. Vincent) have been facing increasing difficulties in acquiring seedlings for their vegetable production. This was owing to the distance of the community from the nearest town Georgetown and the capital, Kingstown. In order to address this problem, a number of vegetable farmers formed a producer group: Fancy Vegetable Farmers Cooperative (FAVFCO). The main objective of the group was to provide quality vegetable seedlings at a sustainable level and an affordable cost to farmers in the community of Fancy throughout the year.
To this end, the group has embarked on the project of establishing a nursery in Fancy. The President of the organization, Marsha Williams, has volunteered her backyard as a site to erect a greenhouse to facilitate seedling production.
On November 26th 2014, 13 farmers from the Cooperative decided to take a field tour to the Leeward side to exchange the best practices in farming. After approaching agricultural officers: Noel Samuel and Leroy Jackson with their proposal, the farmers were invited on a field tour to be introduced to innovative and adaptive methods being used in agriculture by farmers in that agricultural region.
During the tour, the farmers were taken to various locations on the Leeward side of the island. Visits were made to Alvier Stevens Pineapple farm, the livestock production center in Belmont and the Richmond Vale Academy Food Forest and Organic Garden.
The farmers took note of the technologies being used in crop and livestock production, their knowledge of climate change was enhanced, and they observed the use of organic methods, such as composting. They also identified practical and innovative techniques to harvest rain water for various uses.
The President of FAVFCO Marsha Williams expressed gratitude on behalf of the group for such an opportunity to upgrade their knowledge. Williams also made commitments to implement what they had learned in Region One in their lifestyles, particularly organic farming. The FAVCO president further stated that the organization was strengthened to pursue its objectives with confidence.
Empowering the youth to sustain and strengthen the agricultural sector
The Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA), as part of its program to promote investment and development of the agricultural sector, conducted a National Youth Forum in collaboration with Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM): Youth in Agriculture component on June 16th 2015. The theme of the forum was Empowering the Youths to Strengthen and Sustain the Agricultural Sector.”
From Richmond Vale Academy the June Climate Compliance team participated and took part in the exhibition with posters, brochures and plenty of information about the Academy and its programs, while Selwyn Patterson, one of our teachers, was a speaker at the Forum.
The event was opened by Mrs. Kozel Peters-Fraser the Coordinator of WINFA and Hon. Saboto Ceasar, the Minister of Agriculture. Different topics were discussed, like The importance of the agricultural sector: Adding value to national development; The new and emerging challenges within the agricultural sector and engaging the youth for national agricultural development, after which a very fruitful discussion about the aging farming population followed. Issues raised included how agriculture could be a way to lower unemployment among the youth, how to incorporate ICT in agriculture and the impact of Climate Change on agriculture.
The objectives of the workshop included:
1. To educate youths about the importance of maintaining the agricultural sector as a key pillar of economic growth, food and nutrition security and rural development.
2. To assess the possible impact of Banana Accompanying Measures for youths in agriculture.
3. To increase the awareness of the challenges in order to sustain agricultural development and formulate possible solutions to combat / conquer these threats.
4. To create mechanism for young people’s active participation and continuous involvement in the sector.
The last part of the workshop was a working group session, where different teams were discussing the strategies for engaging youths in agriculture, how can agriculture be sustainable and linkages between youths and ICT in agriculture.
The whole event was very beneficial and fruitful and lots of knowledge and good practices were exchanged all around.
Every year since 1970, on the 22nd of April, a very special event takes place worldwide: the Earth Day, dedicated to supporting environmental protection and celebrating the miracles of nature. Here at Richmond Vale Academy we already have a deeply rooted tradition to celebrate with a big Open Day event.
The students from the Climate Compliance teams, hand in hand with everyone else at the school, organized a day in the end of April, also celebrating the ending of their 6-month program. Every year we prepare for a full house and more people come each year; we are now counting our visitors in hundreds!
The RVA students prepare exhibitions of posters on a variety of climate-related topics. An exhibition of the work of our students in Belize and Ecuador is usually set up, and videos and lectures on Climate Change are available for everyone to join. Games and drumming sessions are typically organized for the many children joining in.
In 2015 the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) came all the way from Saint Lucia with an exhibition on Climate Change adaptation, as a part of their campaign to communicate climate change. Hundreds of people got access to new information on the topic.
Local entrepreneurs come to display their local and organic products such as soaps, honey, coconut oil and herbs, available for testing and buying. Local artisans are welcome to join in, displaying painted calabashes or hand-made shoes. Of course, we don’t forget to make a stand about making moringa powder and advertise its benefits.
People are invited to take guided tours around the premises, seeing in practice how our organic garden works, as well as different self-sustainable projects like biogas plant or rainwater harvesting system.
Organizers of this year’s Earth Day celebrations at the Richmond Vale Academy say that the event was a major success and that they are already making plans for 2016. Selwyn “Selly” Patterson, spokesperson for the RVA, told SEARCHLIGHT that the hundreds of persons who converged on the compound in this county’s North Leeward area was the most to gather, so far, for their observation of Earth Day.
Though the day is officially celebrated on April 22nd, the Academy observed the occasion three days later, with resounding success.
“We choose to observe it today so that we could have more people participating,” Patterson noted. “This is the most people we have had here in our second year of Earth Day observations, and in the eight years since they are here. Today was definitely a success, and we are going to do it bigger next year.”
Patterson pointed out that the event saw participants from organizations and schools from as far as Owia to Fitz Hughes, as well as members of the OECS RRACC project. Those attending were treated to video presentations, as well as an exhibition of locally and naturally produced goods, including herbal teas, soaps, honey, coconut oil and moringa. Patterson indicated that following the Earth Day celebrations, the Academy will be embarking on a number of environmental projects with different stakeholders involved, in the not too distant future.
“We are having the one month Climate Compliance Conference team. It is for Vincentians and it is possible to obtain a scholarship, so we are inviting interested persons to contact us.
“Last year we won the Treelympics. We were the only Caribbean country to place in any category and win a gold medal.
“And we are going to do it again, we will be planting fruit and forestry trees along with the moringa,” Patterson said.
Reaching the many through National and International Media is one of the goals of the Conference. Below are some links to our presence in the media: