I’m Mesha King, a St. Lucia Red Cross volunteer. My innovation project, as being part of the IFRC Global Innovators Accelerator, is to promote healthy eating, fun exercise routines and starting vegetable gardens in the various schools within my community. This story narrates how I started my project by combining research, insights and field visits, among other techniques I learnt during the innovation training. By focusing on the problem and trying to understand it, it has been easier to spot potential solutions that have never been tried inside schools in St Lucia. Read the challenges I faced and how I approached the situation.
St. Aloysius RC Boys’ School
I met with the Principal and Physical Education Teacher. The Principal was very welcoming and thought that the project would be a great progress for the school. Something I found very positive, was the fact that the school does not sell any candies or junk food. An interesting approach for this research I observed that lower-grade students are the most vulnerable to bad alimentation habits due to the dependence from their parents. To kickstart the initiative in this school, Friday is a perfect day to introduce the initiative due to physical education sessions. As a solution to the lack of space, the garden will have to be build up with four levels of shelves/boxes made out of wood to support the tyres.
Gordon & Walcott Memorial Methodist School
I met with the Principal and she was extremely excited about the project and is looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the vegetable garden we will start together. The Principal indicated some of the vegetables that she would like to grow in the garden, some of them included lettuce, tomatoes, bell and seasoning peppers. The Principal identified a spot of land in the school where we can start the garden. We may not need the used tyres for this school because there is soil to plant the vegetables. The one thing that the Principal really stressed on, is to have the project continue for a long time after it has started.
Anglican Primary School
The Principal was enthusiastic about starting the project. Together, we found a suitable area for the vegetable garden. The Principal suggested to approach students during the lunch break and get them excited about the idea of having their own sustainable garden and look after it, targeting also social values such as responsibility. The school already has some old tyres but they would need more support to start the project properly.
Ave Maria Girls’ Primary School
I must admit that this school is very dear to me because here is where I received my early education. The Principal was very excited and was extremely happy that their school was selected. The school has an alimentary program and would love to actually prepare the food with the grown vegetables. A little cleaning up is needed, but there are several areas we can use. I am looking forward to seeing the transformation from what it is now to when the gardens start flourishing and the projects keep rolling.
With this story, I want to highlight the importance of designing solutions together with the people that will be actually part of the initiatives. It was a great experience going out and learning more about the schools’ needs, what is the reaction from kids when I asked them about health and being part of the school atmosphere to come up with ideas that are suitable for each group. I will keep you updated on how the gardens are going and some of the implications the sustainable gardens may have in my community.