Hundreds of Volunteers Kick Off “Zero Waste, Lead-Safe” Brigada Eskwela

Hundreds of students, parents,
teachers and school officials have joined environmentalists in an ecological,
healthy and safe cleanup and renovation of Isabelo de los Reyes Elementary
School in Tondo, Manila.

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
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
“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.