Press Release – Thursday, August 24th 2006
The toddlers and pre-schoolers of Riverton Meadows, Callaloo Mews and Shanti Town in St. Andrew can learn and play in a safer, more comfortable and more stimulating environment now. Thanks to the Digicel Foundation, which has partnered with the Bailey’s Basic School in rehabilitating and upgrading that institution.
Responding to a chronic shortage of recreational activities, lack of a designated play-area and a need for properly structured classrooms, Digicel Foundation has completed a $1.5Million project at the Bailey's Basic School. The institution caters to children 2½ to 6 years old.
“We have erected partitions and doors for the classrooms, constructed a perimeter fence for the school and installed play equipment,” discloses Major General Robert Neish, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation. The Foundation has also constructed a Gazebo which will serve as an area for organized outdoor recreational activity.
Elaborating on the needs which prompted Digicel Foundation to get involved with the school, General Neish explains “One of the things that struck us about that Basic School is that the children had nowhere to play. In fact, the fist day that we visited the school it was play time, but the students had to be running around in the classrooms under the watchful eye of a teacher, because it was unsuitable to play in the yard."
Students also had to be using improvised material to play with, such as cartons and bottle stoppers, due to the lack of play equipment. "Riverton Meadows is a community built on reclaimed land. We are excited about this project as it caters to very needy children in a marginalized community," the Foundation's Executive Director declares, while pointing out that the non-profit organization was happy to work with a group of "young but committed community members" in making the project a reality.
Tameka Carr, Principal of Bailey’s Basic School is beaming with satisfaction over the partnership between Digicel Foundation and her institution. "Basically, the children had no where to play. The schoolyard was just an open lot with gravel, and so in November 2005, we applied to Digicel Foundation, seeking assistance to improve the situation. We appreciate the work that they have done at the school."
She is confident that the new play equipment will enhance the development of the motor skills of the youth at the school.
Ms. Carr notes that the upgrading of the classrooms will improve class control by teachers and heighten the concentration levels of the students. "Previously, we had blackboards dividing the classrooms and the children could easily slip unnoticed from one classroom to the next. The noise from one classroom could also easily distract teacher and students in the neighbouring classroom," says the Principal. "All this will change in the new school year, since we now have partitions and doors between the classes."
At a workday at the institution today (Thursday, August 24), Digicel Foundation and residents of the area painted the school and carried out a general beautification programme. Representatives of the Forestry Department did landscaping and planted trees. The day’s activities climaxed with an official Handing-over of the improved facilities.
Digicel established Digicel Foundation in 2004, to support community-based and community-driven activities. Among projects implemented by the Foundation are:
• Refurbishing and equipping two shipping containers, to be used as the Portmore Lane Advanced Centre for Education (PLACE).
• Constructing a physiotherapy unit and computer training centre for the Mustard Seed Communities’ Widow’s Mite Home
in Murray Mount, St. Ann.
• Establishing an information technology lab at the Jose Marti High School.
• J$5 million refurbishing and equipping of the Meteorological Services.
• $200 million donation to the National Hurricane Relief Effort after the onslaught of Hurricane Ivan.
• Setting up of a Chair in Telecommunications Policy and Management at the UWI.
• J$9 million dollar upgrading of the sports and irrigation facilities at St. Elizabeth Technical High School.