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Regional Director for the Child Development Agency (CDA), Sydney Grant, has called on Jamaicans to unite in creating a more protective and nurturing environment for the healthy development of the nation’s children.
Mr. Grant, who was addressing the Sandal’s Montego Bay scholarship awards ceremony held on September 1, said that the CDA has been pursuing a more integrated approach to ensuring a safe and caring environment for children.
“One such approach is the Life in Family Environment Programme, which is geared towards helping fragile families ensure a better future for their children, providing nurturing families to children, who have never been exposed to such environment and building an effective and supportive welfare system”, he pointed out.
The Foster Care Programme is another initiative and Mr. Grant said that the programme has been a success, with more than 1,100 children placed in a wholesome family environment over the past few months.
Meanwhile, he commended Sandals for supporting children through the scholarship programme, noting that the awards would assist in their educational development.
Ten students from St. James, whose parents are employed to Sandals Montego Bay, received scholarships totaling $150,000 under the hotel’s Special Achievers Core programme.
The awards are valued at $15,000 each, and the students were selected based on their recent Grade Six Achievement Test results as well as their end of year school reports.
General Manager of Sandals Montego Bay Hotel, Horace Peterkin, in his remarks, noted that in addition to providing scholarships for children of hotel employees, “we have had, over the last 10 years, a Sandals community scholarship programme and. this year some 20 students from the (Flanker) community have been selected to be beneficiaries.”
He noted that this marked the fourth year of the Special Achievers Core and “out of this initiative, we have launched out into a programme of employment assistance known as the Sandals Training and Recruitment Tier (START)”.
Mr. Peterkin explained that START, which was initiated in February 2004 “assists the community of Flanker with fighting future crime. I believe that if we provide a solid opportunity for youngsters to gain meaningful careers, they will not be attracted to or be available for criminal activity. The idea is that all hotels with the necessary wherewithal take on at least two youngsters and embrace them in their career start, thereby guaranteeing them life-long earning”.
He argued that if hotels across the country bought into this initiative, then over 20,000 youngsters could be taken off the streets every year and placed on a “fantastic path to economic stability”.
The Special Achievers Core is sponsored by Sandals Montego Bay, Supreme Ventures Limited and Dehring, Bunting and Golding.