The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross Society is currently engaged in an Environmental Project, aimed at preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases by keeping their surroundings clean.
Towards this end, the Red Cross has introduced a Litter Police Project’ in eight schools across the nation.
Operations Manager at the SVG Red Cross Society – Julia Simmons, said the project morphed from an initiative of the Calliaqua Primary School.
During a period when the Red Cross was implementing a project to reduce the spread of the Zika Virus and Dengue Fever, the Public Health Department noted that generally speaking, the improper disposal of garbage was creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which transmit Zika and Dengue.
However, during a visit to schools, Red Cross officials observed that the environment at the Calliaqua Anglican School was extremely clean, while other schools complained about the challenges associated with garbage disposal by their students.
On inquiry, Simmons said, the Red Cross officials were informed about a Litter Police Programme which had been introduced at the Calliaqua Anglican School, and which had had a positive impact on the school’s environment. The Red Cross decided to adopt the programme, and expand it into additional schools.
In addition to the Calliaqua Anglican School, the Litter Police programme has been implemented in the: Clare Valley Government; Kingstown Anglican; Intermediate High School; Owia Government; Troumaca Government; Thomas Saunders Secondary and Pamenos Burke Primary.
The Litter Police Programme
Litter Police are selected by the Principal and Teaching Staff of each School and are changed each term, to allow as many students as possible an opportunity to serve in this capacity.
Seven schools have already received jackets and badges from the Red Cross, which has also provided garbage bins to ensure the desired effect is achieved.
Litter Police are tasked with monitoring the activities of their peers, to ensure the proper disposal of garbage and to deter any defacing of the school premises and/or damage to furniture.
According to Simmons, when students are found littering, they are either penalized by the specially designated Litter Police, or asked to simply pick up their garbage and dispose of it properly.
If the student refuses to comply, the Litter Police records the name of the student and their form or grade in a special book. The date and time are also recorded as evidence and taken to the Principal or Tribunal for decisions with respect to penalties, which vary from school to school.
Penalties include a ‘fine’ of one dollar and tasks to be performed at school.
Simmons emphasized that the penalties are intended to teach children that their actions have consequences, e.g., that their indiscriminate disposal of trash can facilitate mosquito breeding.
In her estimation, Simmons said, the programme has been very effective so far, in the schools where it has been introduced.
In addition to the Litter Police Programme, the Red Cross has also introduced Environmentally Friendly Badge and a Junior First Aid Badge programmes in schools here.