I am convinced that we need to involve the youth from an early age if we want to effect positive change in any area , not only in Barbados, but the world in general. The Future Centre Trust has had success in educating youngsters in the area of environmental protection. We must extend this approach to other important areas.
Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent in the local population. It has long been recognized that attention must be paid to encouraging Barbadians to make small but impactful changes to their daily eating and physical activity habits so as to protect themselves against these diseases and improve their overall health.
According to FAO There is growing evidence that food production alone makes little impact on dietary practice. Likewise, nutrition education which focuses only on knowledge seldom transfers to dietary practice. However the combination of nutrition education and vegetable gardening has a proven impact on diet. In other words Gardening and Nutrition Education is a winning combination, particularly for schools.
Bearing this in mind , I was asked to assist with a project which sought to reward schools which were involved in growing food crops as well as preparation of these foods. The National Commission on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases and Super Centre Ltd collaborated to make the project a reality.
Last Thursday I was pleased to attended the presentation of awards to two schools, The Lodge School and Industry High School. Ms Zonia Phillips, a nutritionist, and I had visited these schools at the end of the last school year to see the work they were doing in food production and preparation.
The gardens at both schools were in good condition, with Industry High School producing vegetables and The Loge School producing longer term fruit crops like plantain. Industry prepared meals with fish caught by a student, chicken stuffed with butternut squash and cou cou from okras grown in the garden, while the Lodge School students used plantain to prepare lasagna, punch, salad and bread. The creativity and interest shown by all the students augur well for the future and the meals which we sampled were delicious.
Entrepreneurship is being promoted as the answer to a number of the problems which many countries, including Barbados , are facing. Again, it is important to introduce the youth to this concept at an early age if we are to achieve success. On Friday I attended the 3rd Summit of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation where two initiatives involving the youth were promoted and the participants were rewarded for their efforts. One was called the $20 challenge where students from a number of schools were given $20 and asked to develop a business which would also include community service. The results were outstanding with some students producing over $1000 and donating to worthy causes. The other project was the “classroom to boardroom” project which was sponsored by Virgin Atlantic. The challenge for the students was to develop a strategy for encouraging more Barbadians to travel to Britain. The judges were impressed with the innovations which were proposed by the students.
The guest speaker at the Summit was Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE DL – Broadcaster, actress, writer, independent producer, business woman and member of The House of Lords. She is a native of Trinidad who emigrated to England at the age of ten. Her presentation was one of the most motivational and inspirational I have ever heard. Her enthusiasm and energy were contagious as she emphasised persistence, determination, consideration, contentment, confidence and courage as essential ingredients to get you through life. Children should never to take no for an answer in trying to reach their goals. She seemed genuinely happy at the youngsters’ achievements and hugged each one warmly. I think that her presentation should be made available to every school in Barbados so that all children can be exposed to and benefit from her experiences and advice. If we are to see real positive change we must involve and train the youth.
The Agro-doc has over 40 years experience in agriculture in Barbados, operating at different levels of the sector.