The Kiwanis Club of Montego Bay in St. James continues to be a champion of early-childhood development in St. James, through a raft of projects implemented at five basic schools across the parish.
This is in line with its international mandate to “serve the children of the world” and a strong track record of assisting children in underserved communities by catering to their physical and psychosocial needs.
Among the projects are the construction of the Maffesanti Basic School in Unity Hall, the building of additional classroom blocks at Anchovy Basic School and the development of playgrounds at the Norwood and Paradise Basic schools.
In 2019, the Club, in collaboration with Kiwanis Division 25 and the National Health Fund, also constructed a playground at Hilltop Basic School in St James at a cost of $400,000.
President of the club, Teisha-Ann Pinnock, tells JIS News that the 54-year-old organisation has been resolute in its efforts to advance early-childhood development in Jamaica, noting that the outcome of a child’s formative years profoundly impacts his/her future.
“Our story is decorated with many examples of our involvement with early-childhood institutions and how we have for the past 54 years catered to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society, which is our children,” Ms. Pinnock says.
“We really aim to positively contribute to the holistic development of children through various projects. I am proud to say our history includes the building of schools and the construction of classroom blocks. We also do restoration and beautification-type projects, which usually focus on painting and the planting of flowers and trees. This we have done at Norwood and Paradise basic schools,” she notes.
Ms. Pinnock informs that last year, the club rolled out a programme to improve the literacy outcomes at the Maffesanti, Norwood and Paradise Basic Schools, institutions adopted by the Club in recent years.
She notes that the Club has also focused on the nutritional health of students and has introduced a ‘healthy snack’ project at the Norwood and Paradise Basic Schools.
“The aim of this project is to provide a healthy nutrient-rich alternative for the children. This is usually fruits, such as pineapples, bananas, apples, or whatever fruits might be in season at the time,” she shares.
She points out that the Club has also donated black tanks to its adopted schools as well as stoves, refrigerators and furniture.
Ms. Pinnock says the organisation is now working to further enhance the aesthetics at the Norwood Basic School by tiling the general area where most of the school’s activities, including devotions, are held.
“We will also be installing play mats. This will not only create a conducive environment for learning for the children but will create a safer environment for them,” the President says.
Ms. Pinnock outlines that the Club has also forged partnerships with government agencies to raise awareness on fire safety and public health and safety.
Principal of the Paradise Basic School, Barbara Black, has lauded the Kiwanis Club of Montego Bay for their commitment to developing a nurturing environment for the children at the institution and helping to brighten their outlook for the future.
She says their efforts have impacted the children positively.
“The Kiwanis Club of Montego Bay has really taken over our school. They provide breakfast for the feeding programme in the morning. They will take to us, water melon, ripe bananas and eggs. Our cook will prepare the stuff and they will share it with the children. This is a project that they love, so that our children will have proper nutrition,” she says.
Ms. Black also lauds the club for their efforts to improve the children’s literacy skills.
“During the last academic year, they would come in to do reading every last Tuesday of each month to read with the children. They have also given us books for our libraries, so our children have books to read. We also get pencils, crayons and other school supplies. I think the Montego Bay Kiwanis Club is doing a wonderful job,” she tells JIS News.
For her part, Principal of Norwood Basic School, Yvonne Robinson, says she is overwhelmed with gratitude for the continued support of the Montego Bay Kiwanis Club.
“They come in from time to time to have reading prorammes with the children, and once every month they would come in and do fruits for the breakfast programme. It is a good gesture and we appreciate it. The children love the reading sessions and they look forward to having aunties and uncles come in to share with them,” she says.