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Make mini-parks yours

Take ownership.

That is the challenge that has been thrown out to communities by the Ministry of Culture and the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat, which is trying to broaden the community parks initiative and get the schools more involved as they begin to look toward next year.

Contrary to appearances, National Coordinator Curtis Gibbons noted that the Mini-parks and Gardens Competitions was still very much alive. The challenge has been related to matters of land ownership.

“There is still the Mini-parks and Gardens Competition; however, what would have obtained for example in 2000 because of some legal implications that would have arose regarding land ownership, we sought to protect ourselves by ensuring that anyone who comes into the programme [has] a clear indication that they have been given permission to use the land. Once that has been given then a park can happen.

“Unfortunately, those mini-parks that would have been in existence years ago, the land was not theirs, and in order to cover ourselves as a Government entity, we had to make sure that happened. But it is not to say that mini-parks are not out there because we do have a new entrant this year coming from Haynesville and they do have the necessary permissions… It is there, but what we have tended to do is concentrate more heavily on the gardens, the contemporary gardens and the kitchen gardens within that competition.”

He said there were also plans next year to include at least one minipark in the lighting programme, but Deputy Permanent Secretary Celia Toppin noted that they definitely wanted communities to show initiative.

“One of the things we would like to move toward is having the communities take ownership of these things and coming forward and saying to the Secretariat, ‘Look, we would like to do this next year’, and the Secretariat could assist with the coordination to the extent that they are able. But we would like the communities to take the initiative themselves and create their own programmes to celebrate Independence,” she said, at the handing over of a sponsorship cheque for the Lighting Ceremony and Bajan Brew by Sagicor Life Inc this morning.

She acknowledged that some aspects relating to lighting had presented challenges because of cost this year, but noted that the Secretariat was being charged with working with sponsors and communities to see how best they could resolve such, since it is a critical part of the celebrations.

Gibbons noted too that they were looking at the possibility of more involvement from schools, whether in the lighting or otherwise next year.

“It is something we will explore for next year but it would be done through our schools outreach programme. Right now we have [that] programme in its infancy and for next year we want to broaden the scope of it…,” he said. (LB)

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