Sandals South Coast tops up Coote Savannah ECIThursday, June 10, 2021
WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland — More than half of the roughly 20 students at Coote Savannah ECI will have no issues accessing online classes for the remainder of the school term. This, following a timely sponsorship from Sandals South Coast in which the students each received a '28-day top-up' to continue their online studies.
Coote Savannah ECI, situated in the district of Burnt Savannah in Westmoreland, was established in 1973 and currently serves the Prospect, Red Hills, Dangra, Solas and Town Head communities in the parish.
The school's call for support echoed through a 'Top Up A Child' initiative launched in observance of Child Month (May) by the principal, Narissa Gray-Brown, who is also the teacher for five-year-olds.
“The Top Up A Child initiative came about as a result of us being online for so long and wanting to do something to motivate and encourage the 11 students who made an effort to attend online classes. We wanted to find a way to say thank you to them, to let them know that they should keep going and that through it all they can soar,” said Gray-Brown.
She noted that when she initially shared the initiative via WhatsApp, the response was very favourable. Gray-Brown expressed deep gratitude to other individuals who supported the initiative, but she said the one that stood out to her the most was that of Sandals South Coast Public Relations Manager Rochelle Forbes-Reid.
“It's always so encouraging to see the passion and dedication of our educators in action, so of course when Mrs Brown reached out to me with the Top Up A Child initiative I thought it was an amazing idea, especially during this time with so many kids being mandated to be online to continue their academic learning and I knew we could help,” said Forbes-Reid.
She mentioned that in December, Sandals South Coast had distributed over 70 tablets, which were donated by the Sandals Foundation to students in Westmoreland and St Elizabeth, but even while some kids may have access to a device, being able to consistently finance the data to stay connected remains a problem for a lot of parents.
“We understood Mrs Brown's intention of wanting to show appreciation for the kids who were most consistent with their online classes and we agreed that efforts such as this, especially during these challenging times should be applauded and rewarded,”said Forbes-Reid. “But we were curious as to whether that support could extend to some of the other kids who weren't as active in their online participation.”
With that said, three more students were sought and added to the list.
“On the list of students there were four who were really struggling. Two of them had never attended online classes but they are now online after receiving the top-up from Sandals. The parents of the other two kids could only afford a two-day plan, so their attendance was not consistent either but now they have a month's plan, which will take them up to the end of the term,” Gray-Brown commented.
She also noted that the feedback from parents at her school has been overwhelming, stressing that “they were very happy that somebody had reached out to seek help for them in a time when they needed it most.”
For Coote Savannah student Kylie Leslie, who was also on hand at Sandals South Coast to accept the Digical and Flow cards on behalf of her classmates, the top-up will go a long way in keeping her engaged in her online classes and will also assist her brother back home.
For another student, Kristane Williams, while he is very grateful for the top-up and enjoys online school, what he really wants is to go back to face-to-face classes so he can play with his friends.
“This is a very difficult time for a lot of our children, being away from their playmates and missing out on the valuable social skills they learn best at school,” said Forbes-Reid.
“Hence, doing whatever we can to give them that sense of community and keep them positively engaged online for the time being is so very critical.”
Sandals South Coast works with various schools within Westmoreland and St Elizabeth, from providing infrastructural support, school supplies and other items to conducting teacher training and sponsoring educational events.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login