Little Leaders yields success in year one

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

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National Baking Company Foundation's Little Leaders early childhood programme entered its second year riding high on the success of the first 12 months.

Launched August 2016 by National Baking Company CEO Gary “Butch” Hendrickson, the programme, with an investment of more than $50 million, distributed almost 3,500 learning kits benefiting approximately 125,000 children islandwide in its first year.

“We simply want to make a difference in the lives of children who can so easily go down the wrong path,” Hendrickson said. “Providing the essential learning tools can minimise the learning disparities and give these students, who are in their formative years, a head start to a brighter future.”

According to the foundation's director, Christine Scott Brown, the investment was necessary to fulfil the foundation's mandate to support early childhood education.

“The vision behind the National Baking Company Foundation is to support learning and development for Jamaican children,” she said. “The aim of Little Leaders is to ensure that all children in early childhood institutions have access to the same learning tools and to ensure that their teachers know how to use those tools in the classroom. We see this as a worthwhile investment because it checks every box of the foundation's mission.”

The second year of the programme started on September 18 with the packing of learning kits at the National head office, and distribution to more than 3,500 early childhood institutions the following week.

This year, based on advice of the early childhood professionals, the contents of the kits have been upgraded and will be under constant review to ensure that the children receive only the best materials.

The programme emphasises literacy development and math and science integration, with the kits containing tools such as cube creators, alphabet and number lacing cards, abacuses, magnifying glasses, magnets, among other things.

In addition to the kits, a full-time consultant will be working with teachers to help them be better prepared to teach the students. She will be supported by a fully equipped, self-contained mobile classroom to further enhance her ability to train.

Meanwhile, Hendrickson has credited his staff and his partners for making the project possible.

“We could never make it work without the National staff, Food For The Poor, AMG Packaging, Jamaica Observer and Zoukie Trucking assisting us in making Little Leaders possible,” he said.

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