Happy days lie ahead for the students of the Whitehouse Early Childhood Institute (ECI) in Westmoreland following the completion of several projects that have literally transformed the school.
Upgrades to the school which began late last year under the careful supervision of the Sandals Foundation, were made possible through a generous donation to the tune of 3.2 million Jamaican dollars from Frontline Performance Group (FPG) out of the United States.
Among the completed projects is a complete overhaul of the school grounds including the play area. “We have struggled for many years to make the play area a comfortable, safe environment for the kids,” says school principal, Hortens Sinclair. “We tried different methods, but nothing seemed to last. During the rainy season, we had mud and in the dry season we had dust.”
Mrs. Sinclair also noted that parents constantly complained about the dirt on their children’s uniforms and that the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) has marked the school down based on the condition of the school grounds several times.
But that is no more following the installation of picket fencing around the school grounds and soft rubber tiles in the play area, plus the addition of 2 see-saws, a monkey bar, a slide, lunch benches and a shade sail which will provide adequate shelter for the kids during play time.
Ziad Khourie owner of FPG Frontline PG expressed that, “My wife Lara came back from a trip to Jamaica and a visit to the school and said we absolutely have to do what we can to help. She was also moved by the incredibly dedicated staff headed by Mrs. Sinclair that give so much of themselves to better these kids’ lives It has been very rewarding for us to assist in creating a better environment for these bright and eager kids. We are very thankful for the partnership with the Sandals Foundation who did a wonderful job of executing on the entire plan.”
Other areas of the school’s exterior have also been addressed to create a more kid-friendly environment with hop scotches, updated murals, fans for each room and even a space for a school vegetable garden, created by volunteers from Sandals South Coast. The school was further secured with repairs to the border fencing.
In addition to the extensive work done on the school’s exterior, the donated funds also afforded the school four brand new computers and monitors as well as interactive scholastic software, which are already improving the learning experience for the kids. The library was furnished with new age appropriate library books of different genres to appeal to the minds and multiple preferences of each reader; library shelves were also installed to maintain an organized reading space.
The upgrades to Whitehouse Basic focused on providing a holistic improvement of the school environment. Beyond the classrooms and the school’s exterior, the Sandals Foundation identified the kitchen as an important space to be renovated as a healthy nutrition is paramount for children to get energy needed to grow, learn and be active. The Sandals Foundation furnished the kitchen space with brand new cabinets as well as a new refrigerator.
“Today we are on cloud nine, our dreams for this school have finally materialized, says Sinclair, and we cannot find enough words to express our heart-felt gratitude to our sponsor, Mr. Khourie and the Sandals Foundation.”
“The Sandals Foundation is so pleased to have incredible partners like FPG who are committed to providing the best learning environment for our children and tools that will help them to reach their full potential,” said Heidi Clarke, Director of Programmes for the Sandals Foundation.
Since its inception in 2009, the Sandals Foundation has impacted the lives of over 690,000 people across the Caribbean region through projects geared at community development, environmental preservation and education.
“Education, especially at the early childhood level is particularly important to us as it sets the stage for future academic success,” said Clarke.
There is no doubt that the stage has definitely been set at Whitehouse ECI.