St Mary School gets help
Students of Liberty Learning Centre, sporting Standard of Athletics T-shirts, and two members of staff are pictured at the recent donation ceremony. (Photo: Akera Davis)

TOWER Isles, St Mary — Remodelling an old tennis court at Liberty Learning Centre in Tower Isle, St Mary, has always been on the list of things to accomplish, according to the institution's founder and Principal Rosemarie Brent-Harris. She has been dreaming of the project for years, and with a recent donation of US$4,000 she believes work should be completed by early next year.

"We have been wanting to refurbish our old tennis court at the back for years but because we have so many other needs, that [went] on the back burner. Then, here comes a good Samaritan willing to make a difference here at our school," Brent-Harris told the Jamaica Observer.

The donation came from US-based non-profit sporting organisation, Standard of Athletics (SOA) through its charitable arm Shaping and Preparing Youths (SPY). SOA founder and CEO Anthony Warren explained why he took on the project.

"I know Jamaica is big on sports so contributing to it means a lot to me and I decided to make it my focus," he said, explaining that he fell in love with the country and its people during his first visit in 2015.

Then last July he and a friend visited Liberty Learning Centre and he realised that the school was desperately in need of sporting equipment.

"I have been giving back to schools in the [United] States for several years now and said to myself, 'I want to start in Jamaica,' so I was going around checking out some schools. The first time I visited the school [and] walked around, I realised that they were missing sporting equipment. I spoke with the principal about my interest to donate and she was interested," Warren shared.

The CEO said since establishing SOA in San Antonio, Texas, in 2008 he has dedicated his time to using it as a vehicle to help those in need. The decision to help Liberty was an easy one.

"This school is trying to get their court done and I'm willing to help with that. I want to further do a campaign to raise another US$10,000 to ensure they have everything as it relates to their sporting equipment," Warren said.

Principal Brent-Harris is grateful for the help.

"We really appreciate his great gesture. It is welcomed by our whole school society and it also pushes [us] to continue on that path of nation building. In times like these we find that people tend to always want to get something; but when you find someone with a different reasoning it's really something to admire. The minute Mr Warren walked into the school, he identified areas that he could be of help to us and that is something we are not used to," she said.

The donation, and Warren's other acts of kindness, are his way of keeping a promise he made to himself.

"When I was younger I always said if I was able to do well, I would love to give back. I was one of those poor kids growing up and sports was my way out because I got a full scholarship to play American football. Now I'm in a position to help, so I will," said the New Orleans, Louisiana, native.

"I love the way the kids and teachers are because they are so appreciative of the things. Just to see their bright faces warms my heart," he added.

Warren's goal is to help other local schools while finishing up work on Liberty's tennis court. Plans are now being made to contribute US$2,000 to Runaway Bay Primary School in St Ann on Friday.

"My aim is to start making these donations maybe three times per year and to more schools, once they reach out to me expressing a need," he told the Observer.

Principal of Liberty Learning Centre, Rosemarie Brent-Harris receives a cheque from Standard of Athletics CEO, Anthony Warren. (Photo: Akera Davis)
Director at Liberty Learning Centre, Audette Isaacs (left) and Standard of Athletics CEO Anthony Warren hand out backpacks to students. (Photo: Akera Davis)
From left: Liberty Learning Centre Director Audette Isaacs; Standard of Athletics CEO Anthony Warren; Liberty Learning Centre Principal Rosemarie Brent-Harris; and fourth-grade teacher Daniello Rumble in dialogue about the school's sports programme. (Photo: Akera Davis)
BY AKERA DAVIS Observer writer

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