Schools get money for anti-vandalism projects

NANAIMO –Students at two secondary schools working on school beautification projects.

Students at two Nanaimo secondary schools are working on school beautification projects, thanks to money from the district’s anti-vandalism committee.

John Barsby and Dover Bay secondary schools have each received money to go forward with projects aimed at reducing vandalism costs.

Earlier this year, the committee asked for $4,000 to spend on student-driven anti-vandalism initiatives in each of the district’s secondary schools.

Sharon Welch, committee chairwoman, said only two schools applied and committee members decided to divide up the money between these schools.

John Barsby is receiving $1,000 this year to replace some old recycling bins that were attracting a lot of mess, she said.

“They’re just going on the theory that when the surroundings are kept up, people are less likely to vandalize them,” said Welch.

The committee also decided to give the school $500 toward a vertical garden project, also part of the school’s beautification efforts, with the promise of another $500 if students are able to secure matching community donations.

At Dover Bay, a group of students want to take out a bay of lockers at the school and create an art space there, with a mural and possibly sculptures made out of materials recycled from the lockers, said Welch.

School officials told the committee that negative things were being written on the lockers in that area and that this would provide a positive, creative space for students, she said.

The committee gave the school $1,000, with the promise of $1,000 more for future art projects when students present the results of their endeavours to trustees in the fall.

Efforts by the committee, which formed in 2010 to combat the rising costs of vandalism, continue to pay off.

Between the 2009-10 school year and the 2010-11 school year, costs were halved from about $150,000 to $75,000.

Last year, costs rose to $87,400, but Welch said so far this year, numbers are down again.

Up to the end of March, the district shelled out just $30,000 to deal with vandalism at schools, she said.

“I’m almost scared to say anything because I don’t want a sudden flurry of activity,” she said. “I’m a huge believer that when you put effort into something, sometimes unexplained things happen. I think just raising especially student awareness is good. It’s all about taking pride in their surroundings.”

Welch said she appreciates the support the committee has had from stakeholder groups – at the last meeting, representatives from the police, Crime Stoppers, John Howard Society, schools and parents were in attendance.