Environment

LASCO REAP awards

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

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Some 20 primary and preparatory schools are to be recognised for cultivating good habits to protect the environment under the LASCO-sponsored Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme (REAP), at a special luncheon scheduled for the Jamaica Pegasus today.They are vying for prizes in the following categories: Best School, Best Gardens, Most Trees, Best Poem, and Best Essay. Specialty prizes include the Lascelles Chin Award for Most Trees Planted, and the LASCO iCool Award for Most Plastic Bottles Collected.

It's a special year for the programme, which is in its fifth year and has seen exponential growth over the years. The 2016-2017 programme, which was implemeneted under the theme 'Together We Grow', saw 124 schools participating, up from 84 in the prior year. This compares to 50 schools when the programme started in 2012.

LASCO REAP has engaged over half a million students across the island since that time, who have planted over 15,000 trees and recycled over two million plastic bottles, among other exceptional achievements.

Conceived by Stephen Newland, REAP seeks to educate children about the value of the natural environment and the enjoyment associated with outdoor activity and team work. It encourages students to participate in sustainable environmental practices including tree planting, recycling, energy conservation and up keep of school and community environs.

In addition to the support the programme gets from title sponsor LASCO, REAP has managed to sustain itself through the innovation and competitive spirit of participating students.

“The (level of) innovation has surpassed my expectation because students have not only submitted artwork, but they have gone the extra mile. It's really been brilliant,” Newland shared. “For instance, one school made a solar stove, another did a solar bird house; one winner made video games about them protecting the environment. Others have set up grey water systems and rain catchment for irrigation.”

The programme has also been enhanced through community support.

“A lot of the schools have intelligently engaged communities through local civic bodies such as the Rotary, 4-H, police youth clubs, and parent- teacher associations. They have got their own parents and leaders to be a part of their tree-planting and bottle collections,” said Newland.

Another big part of the reason REAP has been attractive is that it doesn't cost anything to get started.

“It's easy for students to excel under the programme because with our project, it's zero dollars for subscription. You don't need any equipment or any special gears,” Newland said.

He added: “You don't need anything that might cost your parents extra money.”

For LASCO's part, the group of companies reported that it has beeen “reaping the rewards of our investment in this worthwhile project”.

“It is amazing to see the creativity and commitment displayed by all participating students, as it encourages us that Jamaica's future is in good hands,” stated Kelia Dunbar, marketing manager of LASCO Distributors Limited.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is expected to bring the keynote address at today's awards function.

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