When team members from Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple Resorts in Negril visited Jabneh Christian Academy in April, they knew immediately, that they were helping to create a winning peace garden. They were right, as the Grange Hill-based institution was the overall winner for the parish of Westmoreland.
The project came as a result of a collaborative effort between the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), Peace and Love in Society (PALS) and the Education Ministry. It encouraged schools to designate a space for a peace garden where they would plant trees and shrubbery.
The garden would then become an area for dispute resolution, relaxation, and reflection. Jabneh Christian Academy signed up to be entered in the competition that would be judged based on maintenance and community impact. This was when Sandals Foundation representatives from the Negril region decided to join forces with the school, the students and members of the community who all gave a helping hand in making the garden what it is today.
The Sandals team donated a number of different plants and even had representatives from the landscaping department at Sandals Negril helping with the planting and set up of the space.
Jabneh’s garden is indeed a beauty to behold. Not only are the plants colourful and neatly placed but it sports coloured benches and is lined by precisely packed stones, painted in blue and yellow. At the front of the garden is the word “peace”, also done through the use of rocks. The school named its garden the Kurt Jacobson Peace Garden, a beautiful token to one of the pastors who support the school.
And the name is quite suitable.
“After the garden was set up, Pastor Jacobson visited one day and when he sat in it, he felt so much peace that he got some students to sit and read with him there. At the time, he was suffering from a terminal illness. When he left and went back home, doctors told him that his illness had gone into remission. Even in the midst of what he was going through, he found peace in our garden,” shared Dr. Natasha Campbell, principal at Jabneh.
In spite of the fact that the Grange Hill community has been plagued by gun violence in recent times, the school’s peace garden has managed to be a place of consolation for many residents.
“I walked in the schoolyard one morning and I saw two persons standing in the garden. I thought to myself, ‘something seems to be happening here.’ I found out that day that the two individuals who were standing in the garden were actually there trying to resolve a conflict in their marriage. I was in awe,” Dr. Campbell explained.
Dr. Campbell lauds her students and members of the community for maintaining the garden and she is grateful for the input of the Sandals Foundation.
“Trees for Peace is a great initiative that I would encourage everyone to continue pushing. I am also very happy that people see our garden as a place that they can come and reflect and resolve issues. Jabneh’s gates are never closed and I believe with this initiative, the impact will continue to spread.”