The board of the Montserrat National Trust (MNT) is currently seeking funding to build its latest project, EcoPlay, a park for children.
Last Friday, October 1, the trust invited community leaders, volunteers and students to their campus in Salem to learn more about the project, which needs XCD$ 800,000 to build.
Deputy Governor Lyndell Simpson told the gathering that we have an obligation to assist children in becoming the most ardent champions of our rich environment. She added that the values of sustainability, protecting the climate and the importance of biodiversity needs to be integrated into the national process. EcoPlay, Simpson said, will go a long way in ensuring the future of the Montserrat.
Representing the children on the EcoPlay Steering Committee was Jaena Golden, President of the Montserrat Secondary School Student Leadership Team. She said the park will be a welcome addition for children to learn in a safe and healthy way.
The MNT was established in 1970 and has been at the forefront of preserving and conserving the cultural, historic and archaeological heritage of the Island. MNT regularly hosts and facilitates archaeological surveys conducted by Brown University, Columbia University and Wayne State University.
The organisation has many partners it works with on a variety of projects including:
● Durrell Wildlife on Mountain Chicken (frog) recovery: Montserrat lost all its frogs as a result of the Chytrid fungus. Some frogs were sent to the UK and about two dozen were brought back and are being bred in captivity through the Darwin Durrell Project.
● RSPB on several projects including on wetlands restoration
● UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum on a variety of conservation projects including the pilot ‘Adopt a Home for Wildlife’.
MNT organises workshops for children on the island’s special wildlife especially the oriole and mountain chicken, and the shy galliwasp. At EcoPlay school children will be involved in propagating and planting the endemic Pribby, Rondelettia buxifolia.
About the Montserrat National Trust EcoPlay
EcoPlay has been designed with the following facilities:
● Rooftop terrace: play, exploration and observation
● Ground floor: disabled facilities, toilets, kitchenette, classroom for 30 students, orchid growing wall for displaying endemic Montserrat orchids – Epidendrum montserratense, outdoor terrace with swing seat, communal table, pond and planting troughs.
● Lower terrace: sand play area for children 2-6 years, climbing wall and exploration area for 7-18 year olds.
● Amphitheatre seating up to 20 people designed for storytelling and musical performances.
● Play terrace for musical play and a seesaw for younger children.
● Play terrace for physical play including a trampoline and swings for older children.
● Growing terraces with six raised beds for cultivating herbs and vegetables and medicinal plants. There are composting areas so that children can learn about whole life cycles and all biodigestable waste generated on the site is processed in this area.
● Pond to attract wildlife
● An area of natural habitat with a tree house for observation
Montserrat National Trust EcoPlay is also designed to cater for tourists. It will be possible to hold cultural events, introduce the special wildlife of the island and provide a base for hikers and walkers. EcoPlay will provide facilities to enable visitors to interact with islanders and promote activities for young people.
Events at EcoPlay will attract publicity and assist in the drive to promote tourism.
Agriculture: The endemic areas and growing terraces at EcoPlay have been designed to cultivate interest in young people to grow healthy food and plants that are indigenous to Montserrat.
Trade Industry and Commerce
EcoPlay has a space for learning which can be used for training and activities to stimulate commerce and cottage industries.
EcoPlay will contribute to greater social interaction/integration. It has the potential to promote social justice and equality by empowering people and engendering pride in the culture and eco-system of the island.
EcoPlay is focused on learning through play for young people and adults. The facilities proposed include a learning space, climbing wall, sand play area, swings, slides, tree house, trampoline, growing terraces and a range of musical play equipment. This project will greatly improve and support sustainable livelihoods by nurturing and stimulating the talents of young people, families and visitors to the island. There will be opportunities for youth training and interaction with visiting University researchers.
EcoPlay has well-being as its core value- encouraging physical play and mental stimulation in a dynamic, informed, ecological setting.
Strengthening Civil Society
EcoPlay encourages greater participation by civil society and does this through play, fun and pride in the island’s cultural and physical environments.
Improving External Relations through Promoting Environmental Sustainability
EcoPlay will play a significant part in interacting with other communities in the Caribbean region including CARICOM/OECS neighbours by holding virtual and on-site events. Focusing on the islands’ natural heritage showcased at the site and encouraging children to play and interact is something that is designed to be fun and a positive catalyst for fostering friendships and working on economic, ecological and climate change initiatives.
Giving to EcoPlay
Contributions are welcome and can be donated in the following ways:
- Cash can be dropped off at the MNT office in Salem.
- Cheques made payable to the Montserrat National Trust
- Make donations online to the project at bit.ly/Ecoplay