Children from the Caribbean region are being invited to participate in a special environmental awareness programme.
The 2006 Wider Caribbean Environmental Youth Programme, hosted by the Virgin Islands Resources Station (VIERS) on St John, USVI, is scheduled for 27 July to 1 August, and will focus on ‘Natural History, Ecology and Conservation on Caribbean Islands’.
A press release from the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism outlines that students, ages 12-16, will be immersed in activities that cover natural history and ecology of selected Caribbean ecosystems – coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangrove wetlands, dry forest and moist forest – conservation issues, natural resources management strategies, and environmental careers. The daily schedule includes field activities in the various ecosystems (hiking, snorkelling, biking…), as well as demonstrations, presentations and discussions.
‘The program can accommodate five students and one chaperone from up to seven islands for a maximum of 42 participants,’ said the release. The all-inclusive program cost is US$400 per student, and programme sponsor American Airlines offers very special fares of approximately US$200, for an estimated total of US$600 to US$700. This fee may be sponsored by the local hotel association, a CHA member hotel, or the student’s own family.
The release notes that the Wider Caribbean Environmental Youth Programme focuses on the decision makers of tomorrow, by providing Caribbean young people with education and awareness on environmental issues in a fun, entertaining – and strenuous – way.
‘Sometimes, we take things around us for granted, such as the corals or mangroves, but learning about these and being in contact with them makes you understand and appreciate life and the environment better,’ said past participant from St Kitts, Ifuela Esdaille – proof that the programme has been successful in attaining its goal.
The release says, ‘As environmental conservation and sustainable development gradually move up the headlines all around the world, the Caribbean is doing its part in raising awareness on such issues-particularly important for this region that relies heavily on tourism-among those who matter most.’
The release also notes that in her recent address at the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism in Puerto Rico, Caribbean Hotel Association President Berthia M. Parle said, ‘Our Caribbean ecosystems are being robbed of their capacity to continually enrich our tourism product. . . Education of our local population is key to any successful tourism development and successful sustainable development plan.’
The Wider Caribbean Environmental Youth Programme is presented by the Clean Islands International, the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and its environmental division, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), with sponsorship from American Airlines.
More information and full programme are available on the VIERS website at http://www.islands.org/virgin/viers/aacha1.htm.
To request a registration form, contact Randy Brown, at (410) 647-2500 or via email at: [email protected].