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Rooting for corals

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

For its sixth staging, LASCO Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme (REAP) is challenging primary and prep school students to become guardians of coral reefs.

“Last year, REAP had the most trees (3,704) planted and the most bottles (713,313) collected ever in the competition, and we did it in one year. We even added new components such as the Fashion Design Competition using recycled materials, and the creations were outstanding,” stated Stephen Newland, project director of LASCO REAP.

“It simply shows that our youth can be engaged. they can do more and are able to do more for the environment — we simply have to encourage them,” he continued.

The 2017/18 LASCO REAP season is being executed under the theme 'Rooting For Nature.' In addition to its usual focus on recycling, school gardening, and tree planting, the programme has distributed material labelled “Steps to protect coral reefs” through which it encourages students to conserve water, volunteer at local beach clean-ups, dive responsibly, say no to putting chemicals down the drain, eat sustainably, and remain educated about Jamaica's reefs.

According to Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs:1970-2012, a study released in 2014, most Caribbean coral reefs will disappear within the next 20 years unless action is taken to protect them. This is primarily due to the decline of grazers such as sea urchins and parrotfish — a result of overfishing. The study also suggests other factors attributing to the decline of coral reefs in the Caribbean include coastal pollution, rapid growth in the tourism sector, and extreme warming events.

LASCO REAP is an environmental awareness initiative, established in 2012, that encourages students to participate in sustainable environmental practices, including tree planting, recycling, energy conservation and well-kept school and community environs.

“It is imperative to instill the habit of good environmental practices at the primary and preparatory level, in hopes it will remain ingrained in the children and pass from generation to generation, and spread from child to parent and to the community at large, creating everyday heroes for our island,” said LASCO Distributors Marketing Manager Kelia-Gaye Dunbar at the recent launch of the 2017/2018 iteration, held on the grounds of the reigning champion school, Fort George Primary and Infant in Concord, St Ann.

“LASCO REAP is a also a vessel for continued learning and growth. And we are delighted that this year an additional focus has been given to the students to challenge them and expand their horizons,” she added.

The winning school is expected to receive a grand prize of 10 computers. The prize for second place is a smart TV and DVD player; and third place will receive a projecter and screen. Best Essay, Best Poem and Best Visual Art awardees will each receive a tablet.

Best Overall Garden will walk away with a cash prize of $50,000, while Most Bottles Collected and Most Trees Planted will receive 100,000 each. In addition, the three county winners will receive water tanks from Rototech International Ltd.

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