EIGHTEEN schools in Westmoreland and Hanover recently received a major boost to their curriculum thanks to the efforts of the Great Shape! SuperKids Group, Sandals Foundation and the Ministry of Education.
Close to 70 volunteers, including certified teachers, college students, computer technicians and artists from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada spent two weeks helping more than 2,000 youngsters with their reading, comprehension and information technology skills at the Mount Airy All-Age, Pell River Primary, Kendal Primary and Broughton Primary schools. In addition, 18 early childhood, primary and high schools got their own computer labs, while some students received new uniforms, shoes, books and other school supplies.
"Great Shape! Inc is totally energised and blessed by the amazing support we receive from the Sandals Foundation and the staff at Sandals and Beaches resorts. Because of our strong partnership and collaboration, we really can move mountains, literally mountains of books, computers, shoes and uniforms," said an excited Lucinda Kay, communications director for Great Shape! Inc.
As part of the partnership with the humanitarian group, Sandals Foundation provided links to the schools and communities, logistical support, transportation and accommodation. "The Sandals Foundation is always pleased to partner with SuperKids to continue improving the education system in these schools that need it the most," said Heidi Clarke, Sandals Foundation's director of programmes.
"The schools we work with have a literacy rate of about 40 per cent, which is not where it should be. SuperKids go into these schools and not only spend quality time with the students but offer training to the teachers as well and we can truly say the project has seen major success in the Negril and Ocho Rios regions," she added.
In the last four years, the team has set up 50 computer labs in schools and has exposed teachers and students to new and exciting teaching and learning methods. "I am so excited about the new opportunity that my classmates and I are given to use these computers. We can do our research now for our when we get projects without having to go all over to use a computer and access the Internet," gushed Sasha-Lee Clarke, head girl of the Negril All-Age School.
Doretta Guthrie, principal for the Mount Airy All Age School —which has been adopted by Sandals Foundation — could not hide her excitement for the school's new computer lab.
"Eighty per cent of our teachers here are computer literate and one even has her degree in computer science, so now they have the facility to assist with their teaching plan. Students now have an area where they can come and learn how to use the computer and we are so grateful to the volunteers for giving us this wonderful opportunity," she shared.
As the team celebrates a successful two weeks of impacting lives, they are also planning their next visit to the region in 2013, where they will be training educators on how to use computers and exposing them to innovative and interesting teaching methods.