Prospect Primary School creates best peace garden
Prospect Primary School in Danvers Pen, St Thomas, is the winner of the Trees for Peace competition, which was launched by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information on Peace Day in March earlier this year.
The rural school of just under 100 students emerged the winner following the judging of 30 schools islandwide that created peace gardens.
"I knew we were going to win. I just felt it," said Nesline Lawrence, principal of the school, in an interview before officially receiving the top prize that included a trophy, tablets and $150,000 to assist with development projects at the school.
Lawrence said that when she saw the poster for the competition, she had a discussion with her guidance counsellor, who agreed that the rural school should enter the competition.
She said it was hard work, with the children, teachers and parents all having an input. "This garden took a lot out of us. It was a lot of sacrifice, and it paid off," she said with pride.
The peace garden comprises flowery plants, benches, a water fountain, and inspirational peace quotes scattered across the area. "It is like a naughty corner, so whenever the students misbehave, they are sent there because it is therapeutic. It also has running water, so that calms them down and is relaxing," she said.
Dr Elizabeth Ward, chair of the VPA, commended the school for its hard work during an awards ceremony held on the school's premises last Wednesday.
"... The message is one of strong roots, well-watered branches reaching up to the sky. We need strong characters to survive the harsh conditions that we often face. Peace on Earth does not [only] depend on us having a secure living environment, but also involves us working together to resolve conflicts. So we need to keep these green, clean spaces and quiet spaces in our lives," she said.
Dr Ward underscored that trees are a symbol of hope. "We want to make sure you are planting hope in your life for a better place and a better space and leaving a legacy of peace for all our Jamaican children," she said.