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BREDS FOUNDATION - A 'blueprint' for a better Jamaica

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, December 17, 2018

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TREASURE BEACH, St Elizabeth – Treasure Beach-based non-profit Breds Foundation recently marked 20 years of contribution to community development in various ways, including education, sports, life skills and environmental protection.

The organisation was founded in 1998 by hotelier Jason Henzell and Peace Corps volunteer Aaron Laufer.

At an anniversary luncheon at the Breds Treasure Beach Sports Park and Academy recently, stakeholders took time out to reflect on the journey and recognise those who have served and partnered dedicatedly.

A director, Duwayne Wiggan, described the work in the community as a “blueprint” for national development.

“The foundation's impact on this community, especially the use of sports for social change, is being studied as a way to empower Jamaica's youth. We are indeed a blueprint on how to build a better Jamaica; one community at a time,” he said.

While there are a few people at the helm steering, guests were told that it should never be mistaken that the work is not for the common good of the area.

The audience heard that the organisation “captures the heartbeat of the community” and, in addition to being a form of greeting, the word “Breds” is also a reference to “brethren.”

The establishment of the Breds Treasure Beach Sports Park — a 17- acre hub — where many are participating in a range of activities and honing leadership and teamwork skills, is a major achievement for the directors.

“We have raised over $100 million for this park… We are also very proud of the scholarships that have come out of this park…because of what we have here. No community in Jamaica can boast such a facility with so many programmes and incredible facilities,” said Henzell, noting that it is modelled from one seen in England and funded by a number of local and international sponsors.

The hard road travelled over the years is now a fond memory.

“We remember walking this land when there were cows and goats and 'cassia macca' and there was even a white horse…,” Henzell reflected.

Tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams, members of Lashings cricket club from England and former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis - who has an annual boxing camp there - are among those to have visited the sports park, Henzell said.

Through the Breds Foundation, the biennial three-day Calabash International Literary Festival is held and is said to have gained popularly to the extent that it is marketed by the Ministry of Tourism as one of the key attractions for visitors to Jamaica.

Administrators and affiliates of the Sandy Bank Primary School in Treasure Beach said that because of the work of Breds they have seen improvements in infrastructure and in literacy.

The advocacy of Breds, Henzell said, has led to Food for the Poor building houses for the most vulnerable following Hurricane Ivan; a Food for the Poor Distribution Centre now being operated in Treasure Beach; a fund that was organised to assist eight children who lost their fathers at sea; a tower for radio communication built to aid fishermen; persons in the area receiving first aid training from an international group.

Breds led the way in the establishment of a monthly farmers market and plans are underway to position Treasure Beach as a Climate Smart community, he said.

Henzell, who is chairman of Breds Foundation and manages the family-owned business Jakes Hotel, Villas and Spa in Treasure Beach, said that a game-based learning programme called Edusport has assisted more than 20, 000 primary-aged children not only from St Elizabeth but Manchester, Westmoreland and Kingston.

Past and present directors said that the efforts to assist the Treasure Beach community have also resulted in tremendous personal growth.

As the team looks forward, Henzell disclosed plans for varied training programmes that will be coming on stream in 2019.

“After seven years of negotiating with HEART (Trust/NTA) we have finally reached a partnership that will start on these premises (Breds Treasure Beach Sports Park& Academy) in January. We will deliver skills training up to level two certification in the areas of hospitality, community tourism, food and beverage, horticulture and landscaping,” he said.

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