QUEEN Aura Bennett, one of Jamaica’s 25 Care for Kids scholarship recipients, used one of her grandmother’s sayings to charge her fellow awardees to work harder than ever as they enter a new school year come September.
“I am not sure what the plans are for next year but colleagues,” she began with a smile, “we don’t want to miss out so let’s enjoy, be thankful and as my granny would say, ‘buckle up now and study harder’.”
Bennett, who is now in her fourth year with the programme, was speaking on Thursday, August 9 at the Sandals Foundation Care for Kids Scholarship Luncheon at Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club.
Following the luncheon — attended by senior executives of Sandals Resorts — members of the Foundation celebrated the children’s achievements by treating them to a fun day courtesy of Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios.
“I feel really honoured standing here and want to say a big thank you for giving us such an opportunity to excel academically and to achieve our goals,” Bennett said on behalf of the other recipients who attend various high schools in St Ann, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
Also in attendance were Chevelle Blackburn, a scholarship recipient, now attending Bethlehem Moravian College with the assistance of sponsors through the foundation, and Austin Swaby, a fourth form student at Marcus Garvey Technical High School and junior golf champion who is a member of the Sandals Foundation Care for Kids Golf Academy.
Through the Sandals Foundation Care for Kids Scholarship Programme, students in Jamaica, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Antigua, the Bahamas, and St Lucia, are awarded each year with scholarships to cover the costs of tuition, uniforms, books and annual medicals. They also have access to mentorship and tutoring, seeing to their personal and academic development. For 2012, the foundation has committed to awarding 42 children with scholarships over a five-year period valued at $10.36 million, a portion of which will also go towards skills training.
Speaking at the scholarship luncheon, the Sandals Foundation’s director of programmes, Heidi Clarke, reaffirmed the non-profit organisation’s commitment to education.
“This initiative is a partnership between the Foundation, your parents and your schools, and of course with each of you. We expect that you will work hard to develop your potential through education to become productive citizens.
“We encourage you to make full use of this opportunity, recognising that there are many others who do not have this experience,” Clarke said.
The Care for Kids programme requires all scholarship recipients to engage in volunteer service and maintain a minimum B average.