The St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Red Cross Society is currently engaged in an Environmental Project, aimed at preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
The Litter Police Project is being carried out in eight schools across the nation, to encourage the students to keep their surroundings clean, a release from the Red Cross said.
Operations Manager at the SVG Red Cross Society, Julia Simmons said the project was initially an initiative of the Calliaqua Primary School.
She explained that the Red Cross was implementing a project to reduce the spread of the Zika Virus and Dengue Fever, and one of the issues noted by the Public Health Department was that the improper disposal of garbage was creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which transmit Zika and Dengue.
Simmons said during their visits to schools, personnel from the SVG Red Cross observed that the environment at the Calliaqua Anglican School was very clean, while other schools complained about the challenges associated with garbage disposal by their students.
She said the Red Cross officials were informed about the Litter Police Programme which had been introduced at the Calliaqua Anglican School, and after observing the positive impact of the programme on the school’s environment, decided to adopt the programme, and introduce it in other schools.
Simmons further said that the students who are chosen as Litter Police are required to monitor the activities of their peers to ensure thar garbage is disposed of properly. The Litter Police are changed each term, to allow as many students as possible an opportunity to serve in this capacity. They are also responsible for ensuring that students do not deface the school premises by writing on walls, or damaging furniture.
Simmons indicated that when students are found littering, they are either penalised 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 Tribunal. The penalties vary from school to school and are decided upon by the school (Principal/Tribunal). Some schools charge one dollar or assigns a task at school.
The penalties are intended to teach children that their actions have consequences, since indiscriminate disposal of trash can facilitate mosquito breeding. The Litter Police are selected by the Principal and Teaching Staff of each School.
Simmons said the programme has been very effective so far in the schools where it has been introduced.
She said the Red Cross has been distributing Litter Police Jackets, Badges and Garbage Bins to the participating schools.
The Schools involved in the project are: the Clare Valley Government; Kingstown Anglican; Intermediate High School; Owia Government; Calliaqua Anglican; Troumaca Government; Thomas Saunders Secondary and Pamelous Burke Primary.
Simmons said the SVG Red Cross has also introduced other related programs in schools, such as an Environmentally Friendly Badge and a Junior First Aid Badge, which students can earn after undergoing training, even if they do not have an opportunity to serve as Litter Police.
And, she pledged the commitment of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross Society to continue to find creative ways to address issues relating to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.