Mon | Apr 22, 2019

Sandals Foundation commits to engaging 100,000 in conservation

Published:Tuesday | March 19, 2019 | 12:32 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

As the Caribbean ecosystem becomes more vulnerable, Sandals Foundation has committed to engaging 100,000 people in environmental conservation over the next 10 years.

“This commitment includes working with schools and educators to integrate marine education into their lesson plans, spearheading hands-on field trips to protected areas, and engaging residents in coastal communities on proper solid waste management programmes,” Sandals Resorts International deputy chairman and president of the foundation, Adam Stewart, has stated in a media release.

The announcement comes on the foundation’s 10th anniversary and is in line with its mission to reduce waste.

The foundation pledges to strengthen the resilience of coral reefs in the region, with a commitment to plant 30,000 coral fragments on to reef systems over the next 10 years. As part of this, community members will receive training in coral restoration, and guests at Sandals and Beaches Resorts will be able to participate in coral-planting dives.

Reusable lunch kits

Schoolchildren in the Caribbean are to benefit hugely from reusable lunch kits to reduce their dependence on styrofoam.

“Our goal has always been simple – to unite the Caribbean region, elevate its people, and protect its delicate ecosystem – and I am so proud of how far we’ve come in our first decade,” said Stewart, adding that to build on their momentum and bring even more awareness to the importance of supporting the region, he and his team would be tapping into the power of social media, local and international partnerships, and the strong support within SRI to galvanise the world to join in the efforts.

Since its inception in 2009, the Sandals Foundation has worked with its extensive network of donors, volunteers, partners, and team members to implement projects and programmes valued at over US$58 million. The foundation has worked with 578 schools across the Caribbean, impacted over 348,000 community members, and reached over 43,000 people through environmental programmes.

“We have been very fortunate in the support we have received over the past 10 years that has allowed us to impact so many people across the region,” said Heidi Clarke, executive director of the foundation.

Improving quality of life

She said that it has been especially gratifying to know that they have succeeded in uplifting the spirits and improving the quality of life for thousands of children and adults.

“This has fuelled us to make this significant commitment for the way forward,” Clarke added.

With a proven track record, the foundation has constructed three early childhood institutions, awarded 180 five-year scholarships to deserving students, implemented programmes to promote literacy and technological advancements, and completed major infrastructural developments to schools.

The foundation has also taken significant strides to protect the environment, managing two marine protected areas and supporting another four in Jamaica, taken steps to reduce plastic pollution in the region, and educated adults and children on the dangers of irresponsible waste disposal, distributing 5,000 reusable water bottles to students and 10,000 reusable shopping bags in an effort to promote environmental protection.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com