The new Children’s Garden at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park recently received a boost from a local youngster, its youngest donor yet.

“It gives us great encouragement and joy in knowing that this is something our children and future leaders are excited about.”

At his 8th birthday party held on Sept. 18, Kaz Conolly Basdeo requested that friends give a small donation to the Children’s Garden at the Botanic Park rather than giving presents, a press release states.

“I really love those ideas for the garden. It’s cool how you thought of all of that to put in the Children’s Garden,” Kaz wrote in a hand-written letter to the Botanic Park manager, John Lawrus.

“I am going to do a presentation and ask my classmates for ideas. I am also going to ask my teachers if my class can go on a field trip when it is finished.”

Kaz went on to explain that he would be donating all of the money he received from his 8th birthday party to the Children’s Garden, and that he was very much looking forward to the final “masterpiece.” He raised more than $200, which he personally delivered to Mr. Lawrus inside a handmade card on Sept. 24.

The release states site works on the garden are scheduled to begin in late November of this year, and the project is hoped to be completed by late 2018.

“The value of botanic parks in our society is tough to measure, as a simple walk in nature provides much relief to our daily stresses that we always don’t even realize,” said Mr. Lawrus.

“Not only the importance of conservation of our natural world, but the passive learning that goes on as a child looks at the shape of a leaf, or discovers an insect pollinating a flower are only a small part of what is intended to be accomplished by the Children’s Garden.

“In addition, the outdoor classroom will provide a location for all schools of the Cayman Islands to teach an earth sciences class without having to go back on the bus. The Children’s Garden will be the classroom for all of our youth to use.”

Kaz’s mother Marilyn Conolly said she hoped that her son’s donation would encourage other children and families to support the Children’s Garden.

“Leading up to his birthday, Kaz was home sick for a week so I suggested he research some charities he might be interested in helping for his birthday,” said Ms. Conolly.

“We discussed how he should give to a cause that he really cared about, which for him is protecting the Earth, so I gave him a few suggestions and after thoroughly researching, he came up with the new Children’s Garden.”

Ms. Conolly said Kaz then called Mr. Lawrus to tell him what he hoped to achieve and got an enthusiastic response.

“John sent him some information on the garden, and Kaz was so impressed and excited by what he saw,” said Ms. Conolly. “He really wanted to share what he’d learned with a presentation to his class.”

Patrick Thompson, acting CEO of the Tourism Attraction Board which manages the property, said he was very proud to see such a young Caymanian take an interest in the park.

“It gives us great confidence in the future role of the Park in our community, and indeed in that of the TAB in its overall efforts to preserve and protect local nature and culture,” said Mr. Thompson.

Mr. Lawrus said he was very honored and pleased to receive the letter from Kaz regarding his donation to the Children’s Garden.

“It gives us great encouragement and joy in knowing that this is something our children and future leaders are excited about,” he said.

“Nature is so delicate and ever-changing, and without the understanding and respect from young person’s such as Kaz, it may be lost on future generations as we move ever so quickly in the digital age. The Children’s Garden will ensure that our youth will be part of the important process of preserving and protecting this natural landscape, particularly through interaction, learning, and fun,” he added.

“To have a young person with the mindset of how equally important it is to give back to the community is truly heart-warming.”

Originally designed to show and preserve the Cayman Islands’ native flora and fauna, as well as to promote education, conservation and recreation, the park now has more than 30,000 visitors each year, many of whom come to enjoy its tranquility, culture and natural beauty.

With more than 62 acres of tropical landscape, the park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including many of the islands’ 56 species of butterfly, native birds, the Cayman parrot and the endangered Cayman blue iguana. The park features multiple floral gardens, woodland trails, wetlands, a lake and many species of palm trees.

Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Residents receive a discounted rate of $5 per adult, with free admission for children under 12 and seniors over 60. For more information, call 947-9462 or email [email protected]

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