Involving the Youth in Positive Change

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 […]

By Dr. Frances Chandler

November 26, 2012

Lodge School students Students of The Lodge School and Industry High School with their awards.

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.

Dr. Frances Chandler

Dr. Chandler Consultant Agronomist, Director Horticultural Business Solutions Inc. has worked at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute where she was Head of the Barbados Unit from 1991 to 1994. Her major accomplishment here was the development of an onion industry in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. As a Board member of the Barbados Marketing Corporation in the 1980s she co-ordinated the production , packing and shipping of sweet peppers exported to Holland. Dr Chandler established her own company "Horticultural Business Solutions Inc. in 1997 with a view to upgrading the operations of Caribbean private sector companies involved in food production and marketing. Recognising the importance of succession planning in the agricultural industry, Dr Chandler has supervised a School Garden Competition for Super Centre, and at the Governor General's request, has co-ordinated the Governor General's Agricultural Summer Camp for primary school children for the last five years. In 2006 she was appointed as a member of the local Selection Committee for the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence and this year was appointed to the local Selection Committee for the United World College Scholarships. In 2007 Dr Chandler held the post of Vice President of the Barbados Society of Technologists in Agriculture, and in 2008, President. Dr Chandler is part of the Exhibits Committee for Agrofest and the Chief Judge of the Fruit and Vegetable Exhibit. She has authored/co-authored over 50 publications in addition to being the author of the Agro-Doc column which has appeared in the Nation newspaper for the last four years. In 2003 Dr Chandler was appointed by the Governor General as an Independent Senator in the Upper Chamber of the Parliament of Barbados and was reappointed in 2008.