Organized by the EcoWaste Coalition, and in partnership with Isabelo de los Reyes Elementary School, the group kicked off the festive launch of the “zero-waste, lead-safe” Brigada Eskwela with a parade at the school’s adjacent streets before proceeding to the school covered court for a short program and task overview.
School principal Edita Lopez re-echoed this year’s Brigada Eskwela theme, “Tayo Para sa Kalinisan, Kaligtasan at Kahandaan ng Ating mga Paaralan,” by drawing attention to “bayanihan,” the Filipino spirit of communal unity and cooperation, which the weeklong activity seeks to revive.
She also reminded participants who came to help and take part in the weeklong maintenance and rehabilitation activities to keep school environment clean and amenities safe for children’s learning, growth and development.
Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the need to be mindful of unsafe and unhealthy practices that people often take for granted during cleanup and repair activities, posing hazard risks to human health and the environment.
Some of these unsafe and unhealthy practices include the burning of biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes, the inappropriate handling and storage of busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps and the improper removal of paints and coatings that may contain lead, a potent neurotoxin.
“By being careful on how we carry out these renovations, we minimize toxic discards from the Brigada Eskwela, while imparting a collective attention to best practices that will render schools a safe and healthy place for children to learn, develop and enjoy,” she said.
“The principle of adopting environmentally-sound practices during the cleanup protects our children against all forms of toxic pollutants in the surroundings, particularly lead dust, to which they become vulnerable from due to their hand-to-mouth behavior,” she added.
The group also got the support of District I Congressman Benjamin “Atong” Asilo who joined the group in a symbolic wall panting, together with Manila Schools District Superintendent Priscila de Sagun and Assistant Superintendent Pedro Arao.
Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. provided cans of lead-safe paints that the volunteers used to paint classroom walls, furniture and fixtures.