Retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has given back to over 20 rural schools in Jamaica through his Usain Bolt Foundation.
Twenty-one early-childhood institutions in Trelawny, St. Ann, St. James, St. Elizabeth and Clarendon have benefited from a donation of supplies valued at $2.2 million from the charity.
Each institution has received one laserjet printer with four print cartridges and five reams of paper, one handwashing station, one thermometer, one storage bin for learning resources, one step-on/non-touch garbage bin.
The resources will better enable the teachers of the schools to meet the learning needs of children while they are at home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an Instagram video, Bolt said that “he knows it is a tiring time for students and its hard for students in the rural area.” He urged the students to continue working hard and remember that anything is possible.
“Some 1,250 children are set to benefit,” said Chairman of the Usain Bolt Foundation, Winsome Wilkins, at the handover ceremony held at the Early Childhood Commission’s (ECC) downtown Kingston offices on Thursday, November 12.
She informed that the ECC identified the schools with the most urgent needs.
She noted that the printers that have been contributed are to aid in the production of worksheets by teachers as they help the parents to work with the children while at home.
Mrs. Wilkins said: “The goal of the Foundation is to impact children, especially those from rural communities whose education has been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to giving support in whatever way we can.”
Chairman of the ECC’s Board of Commissioners, Trisha Williams-Singh, in her remarks, said that the ECIs have been impacted by the pandemic, and more so the children.
She noted that while remote learning has become the new normal “it’s very important that, as soon as we can, we need to have these children back in a safe learning [environment], face-to-face. The Usain Bolt Foundation, you are making this possible”.
“This wash station that you are providing is critical to the operation [of] these institutions,” she noted.
Principal of Parry Town Basic School in St. Ann, Vanessa McKoy, in her response on behalf of the beneficiaries, said that “our institutions are grateful for this assistance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“The Usain Bolt Foundation came to our rescue at a time we are in need of these items,” she noted. She said that the early years are critical to the development of children and is the period where the foundation for learning is laid.
“It is at this stage we prepare them to become successful men and women in the future. This donation gives a significant boost to the daily efforts that early-childhood practitioners make in order to achieve this goal,” Ms. McKoy said.