PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Tree plantings, seedling giveaways, and a free ebook about native Caribbean plants—none of these things sound like ways to celebrate migratory birds. But this year they are.

Across the Caribbean and throughout the Western Hemisphere, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) events have added habitat restoration activities to their programs, attracting new participants and taking action on this year’s theme: Restore Habitat, Restore Birds.

BirdsCaribbean, the regional coordinator of International Migratory Bird Day activities for the Caribbean, kicked of the season by providing habitat restoration resources.

A free ebook, Heritage Plants, featured dozens of native Caribbean plants that are of particular value to local birds as well as techniques for creating a great backyard bird habitat.  A free webinar, Native Plants for a Bird-Friendly Backyard, featured Caribbean bird, plant and habitat restoration experts.

At dozens of Caribbean events throughout the region the habitat restoration theme was explored in a variety of ways. In the Dominican Republic, Grupo Acción Ecológica collaborated with a botanical garden to host an event that combined a bird walk with bird-friendly tree plantings. On St. Martin, non-profit association Les Fruits de Mer distributed dozens of seedlings of an endangered, native tree called Lignum Vitae or Gaïac.

The Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club created an interactive bird display at a local green market that featured materials from the BirdsCaribbean webinar. In Jamaica, students were taken on a birding excursion and then given a presentation about how to protect and restore habitat.

In Puerto Rico, students had the chance to see the results of habitat restoration firsthand at the Pterocarpus Forest at Palmas del Mar, a rare example of freshwater swamp forest. Abandoned and overgrown with invasive plants, this 50-acre habitat has been rehabilitated over the last four years into a nature preserve with a three-quarter mile elevated boardwalk and 40 foot bird observation platform.

Ingrid Flores, Regional Coordinator of IMBD Caribbean explained that “the students learned how habitat restoration helps migratory birds, and how it creates valuable public space for recreation and education.”

“BirdsCaribbean has always used birds as a way to connect people to nature, and this year we’ve found that native plants and trees can also play the same role,” explained BirdsCaribbean Executive Director Lisa Sorenson. “By incorporating habitat restoration into our activities this year we’ve reached a whole new group of people who connect to nature primarily through plants. We’ve shared a lot about birds and learned a lot about plants in the process.”

BirdsCaribbean has been the regional coordinator for International Migratory Bird Day activities for eight years. Centered around the month of October—peak season for migratory birds in the Caribbean—approximately 40,000 people participate in these events each year.

For more information, or to download the Heritage Plants ebook and watch the native plants webinar, visit birdscaribbean.org. IMBD activities across the Western Hemisphere are coordinated by Environment for the Americas (EFTA).

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Does your child have a speech impairment or language disorder? What should a child be saying and when should he/she be saying it?

Do you have difficulty understanding your child? Is your child frustrated because no one understands what he/she is saying? Are you frustrated and don’t know what to do?

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs is organizing an informative session entitled, “What is my child saying; is that normal?”

The information session is intended for the general public and especially parents in order to help them in understanding speech and language development in children. and learning tip and/or strategies on how to assess and help improve your child’s speech and language skills. The facilitator for this workshop will be Speech Therapist, Ms. Najhilah Brooks.

Parents and other interested persons are encouraged to come out to this session which will be held on Wednesday November 4th, 2015 at the University of St. Martin from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.

The objective of the session is to bring awareness to parents about speech and language development and also to provide useful tips on how to assess and help improve your child’s speech and language skills. At the end of the workshop, you will have tools to assess if your child needs speech therapy and you will know how to improve your child's speech and language skills.

For more information, you can contact the Student Support Services Division at 543-1235 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The SSSD office is located in the Amigo Building across from the Police Station and next to the WIB.

The Student Support Services Division(SSSD) provides support services to students referred by the care team of their schools. These services consists of psychological services, counseling services, social work services, educational diagnostic services, career services, speech therapy services and parent education sessions.

CASTRIES, St. Lucia - The Landings St. Lucia won a 2015 Orbitz Worldwide "Best in Stay" award as a top-rated hotel in St. Lucia.
 
The 2015 "Best in Stay" Awards honor nearly 400 top-rated hotels in 125 popular destinations based on reviews by Orbitz Worldwide consumer brand (Orbitz.com, ebookers, and HotelClub) customers.
 
"It's great to be recognized not only for our efforts to elevate our accommodations at The Landings, but also for our renewed commitment to the guest experience, including our food and beverage offerings," said Kathy Taylor, General Manager of The Landings St. Lucia.
 
"We are blessed to work with some of the world's most hospitable and friendly people right here in St. Lucia," added Taylor, who lauded her staff for "going beyond the call of duty to ensure guests experienced a unique brand of Caribbean excellence" when they visit The Landings St. Lucia.
 
Orbitz Worldwide Best in Stay Award winners are selected based on the overall numeric score of verified hotel reviews submitted by Orbitz Worldwide customers who have booked and stayed at hotels over the past year. 

Customers are asked to rate a variety of hotel attributes on a scale of 1 to 5, including amenities, maintenance, hotel staff, room comfort, location and value. Those ratings are supplemented by input from Orbitz Worldwide hotel experts who factor in other market conditions, such as the number of reviews, frequency of booking and reputation of hotel staff.  

 

From now until November 13, 2015, travelers will receive $50 off a vacation package that includes a flight and hotel stay of three or more nights at any Best in Stay property using the promotion code "BESTINSTAY50".
 
According to the Orbitz.com 2015 holiday survey, 71 percent of Americans are planning to take at least one trip between Thanksgiving and New Year's, up six percent from last year. Not only are more Americans planning to travel during the holidays, they are also planning to spend more. On average, Americans plan to spend $2,195 on holiday trips, up slightly from $2,177 in 2014. With airfares down nine percent over the holiday season (Nov. 25 - Dec. 31) and hotel prices remaining relatively flat, increased budgets will stretch further this year.
 
"Last year, 50 percent of travelers had already booked their Thanksgiving trips by Oct. 20 and Christmas trips by Nov. 13. Over the next couple of weeks planes will be filling up and air supply will begin to decline which can increase prices," said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor at Orbitz.com. "Whether it's home for the holidays or a beach vacation, now is the time to book holiday travel while there is still availability and reasonable prices."

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Inspectorate of ECYS at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (Ministry ECYS), Truancy Team, will increase its visibility in the area of truancy surveillance for students who have an unexcused absence from school.

The Inspectorate currently has an on-going public awareness campaign under the banner, “Are your kids in school today?”

In order to up hold the “Compulsory Education Law” which states that all children between the age of 4 and 18 must be enrolled in and attending school, the Truancy Team at the Inspectorate ECYS will continue to visit the various schools creating awareness about the compulsory education law.

Information sessions at various primary and secondary schools took place from August –October 2015. 

The Truancy Team has also made several strategic developments such as: increasing its man power from two to four Truancy Officers, purchasing of a Truancy van to be used during school hours and/or throughout the day. The van will be used to patrol in various neighbourhoods.  Students who are on the road without permission from their school will be escorted back to school.

Home visits will also be conducted. The increased activities will be carried out in order to curb the growing issues with regards to students skipping school/classes, and possibly decrease the drop-out rates.

Lacking an education, youngsters are more likely to end up unemployed and at risk of becoming involved in crime, both as victims and as offenders.

Truant behaviour has fiscal and economic impacts on a society such as the costs of incarceration and loss of economic productivity and tax revenues.  The Truancy Team at the Inspectorate ECYS has as its main goal to firstly prevent truancy, and for those found heading in the wrong direction to re-direct them!

The community plays a very important role where it comes to helping to enforce Compulsory Education.  If members of the community are aware of youngsters unlawfully staying home; or loitering, they should contact the Inspectorate of ECYS Truancy Team immediately.

Truancy Officers are Orva Medina, Nataly Pieters, and Richinel Brug.

The Truancy Team can be reached at: Tel. 542-3479 or 542-3182.  You can also email reports of truancy to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the aforementioned numbers.

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Rotary Club St. Martin Sunrise, made a donation recently to Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour of four special vaccine carriers.

CPS received a symbolic voucher as a confirmation of the commitment to pay for the carriers when they are ordered.

Dr. Josien van Wijk received the gift certificate on behalf of the department.

The donation was officiated by President of Rotary Club St. Martin Sunrise Marcellia Henry in connection with the commemoration of World Polio Day, 24 October, 2015.

The club had the honour of having the District Governor of District 7020 Gelix Stubbs and his wife Carla Stubbs, also a Rotarian, to witness this donation.  Also Assistant Governor Louis Wever was present at the meeting.  

The carriers are specially designed cool boxes that comply with high international standards approved by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The purpose is to store the vaccines when going out into the field such as visiting the various schools as part of the government vaccination program.  The cool boxes guarantee that the cold chain is maintained at all times.

Cold chain is the average recommended temperature at which vaccines are stored to guarantee vaccine efficacy.

Rotary Club St. Martin Sunrise was thanked for the donation which is an essential component for the Government vaccination program.

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