The Woodside Community Action Group is the winner of the Carib Cement Build Your Community Competition, earning the prize of a development project valued at JMD 5million.

Carib Cement will assist Woodside with developing an “Ancestral Garden” which the community has identified as a step toward enhancing the potential of its community tourism programme. The creation of the Garden includes installation of amenities such as benches, a gazebo, and a pathway which will better define the space and facilitate more visitors. Carib Cement will execute the project.

Situated within Central and Western St. Mary, Woodside is a farming community located close to Highgate and Guys Hill. The area is rich in history with extensive research having revealed its Taino, African and British heritage. A commemorative Emancipation Day ceremony has been held in the area on August 1 since 1995, and in 2015, four sites in the community were recognized as National Heritage sites by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

“We congratulate Woodside for winning this competition and hope the project, once complete, will contribute meaningfully to the community’s broader goals of implementing creative, sustainable programmes,” said Klao Bell-Lewis, Communication and Outreach Manager at Carib Cement.
Woodside had been seeking development support for some time and consider this win to be a boon to its objectives. In its proposal, the Woodside community said: “We who live in Woodside, St Mary applaud this gesture. It is rare for companies to think in terms of communities of people, yet it is so important that they do so. The Caribbean Cement company in thinking in such terms is putting its money where its thinking is, putting its support to Jamaica at the nation’s heart.”

Among Carib Cement’s objectives for the competition were: contributing to Goal One of Jamaica’s Vision 2030 and Goal 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, which both recognise the importance of safe, inclusive and accessible public spaces and their role in contributing to healthy lifestyles and communities. The competition also supported the Social Development Commission’s thrust to promote community engagement, formal registration and self-governance. The SDC has identified 775 communities in Jamaica.

“The SDC congratulates the Carib Cement for an excellent model of Corporate Social Responsibility demonstrated in their execution of the innovative Build your Community Competition. A best practice in community development where communities are involved in identifying and designing strategies aimed at improving their quality of life, was a major prerequisite for sustainability and an important feature of SDCs approach. Therefore, the SDC is pleased to know that each project applications emerged from actual developmental priorities as identified from the spaces and informed by data,” said Omar Frith, Deputy Executive Director of the SDC

The competition went through several phases and required formally recognized and organised communities to demonstrate that there was consensus around a project and capacity to sustain it. Requirements also included evidence that the project: will improve the life of the community, fits within the development priorities of the community and would meet the approval of the municipal authorities.

Forty-six communities from 13 parishes entered the competition and the highest number of submissions came from St Catherine followed by St Andrew, with St Thomas, Manchester and Kingston tying for the third-highest number. Parks, community centres, and playgrounds were the top three projects proposed.

“This competition has highlighted that there are many strong, organized communities which are cooperating effectively to develop their neighborhoods. The needs within the communities are common, and it is mainly for safe, multifunctional spaces which can be used for wellness, entertainment and educational purposes,” Mrs. Bell-Lewis said.