THE remote learning needs for some two hundred vulnerable children across Saint Lucia have been met with the delivery of digital tablets by the Sandals Foundation.
The much needed devices will serve a cross section of students including pupils in the formal education system, children with disabilities and youth in marginalized communities. These were made possible by donations from Sandals Resorts International guests including the Tarr family, who has been longstanding supporters of the work of the Sandals Foundation.
Through the support of the Ministry of Education, 144 of the devices will be delivered to the following eight schools to serve grade six students:
• Babonneau Primary
• Boguis Primary
• Ciceron R.C. Combined
• Monchy Combined
• Grande-Riviere Primary
• Odsan Combined
• Ti-Rocher Primary (Castries)
• Vide Boutielle Primary
An additional 31 tablets will serve children within the Wilton Yard community which is part of the Safe Spaces programme of RISE (St.Lucia) Inc. and who have all tragically lost their fathers.
Finally, twenty-five tablets will be delivered through the Child Development and Guidance Centre to support families with disabled children of various ages.
Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation says what started as an initiative to support the formal education sector, blossomed to reach beyond what the philanthropic organization envisioned.
“When we began our Lessons Alive fundraising campaign, we knew we wanted to help our islands meet their digital learning needs in a tangible way, but we had no idea of just how things would evolve in Saint Lucia.”
“We are humbled”, Clarke says, “to be able to serve multiple communities of children, many of whom would possibly go undetected and under the radar but whose access to education and the tools to engage in remote learning is just as or even more important.”
Dr. Fiona Mayer, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education says, “Thank you, on behalf of our students, for this much needed initiative. Information Technology remains a significant part of teaching and learning especially during these times when we have to add value to the lives of our children. With the use of the devices, we are pleased that those students most in need will be afforded an opportunity to engage with their learning in a more consistent manner. We thank the Sandals Foundation for seeing it fit to embrace this initiative thus affording our children such an opportunity.”
And Kim Gardner, Paediatrician and Director at the Child Development and Guidance Centre (CDGC) says, “the donation to disabled students will go a long way to help children within these families that are in need of significant intervention. On behalf of families and staff at the CDGC, we are ever so grateful for this. It will allow families access to tele-therapy for their child with developmental delay as we know early intervention is key to every child reaching their greatest potential.”
In August, the Sandals Foundation launched the Lessons Alive social media campaign to help families across the Caribbean prepare for the new academic year and on October 5 expanded the reach of the campaign to target sourcing digital tablets to help with the growing remote learning needs.
The digital learning landscapes across the seven countries in which it operates – Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados and The Turks & Caicos Islands have all been assessed and intervention provided as needed.
The Sandals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was created to continue and to expand upon the philanthropic work that Sandals Resorts International has undertaken. It is the culmination of close to four decades of dedication to playing a meaningful role in the lives of the communities where we operate across the Caribbean. The Sandals Foundation funds projects in three core areas: education, community and the environment. One hundred percent of the monies contributed by the general public to the Sandals Foundation go directly to programs benefiting the Caribbean community. To learn more about the Sandals Foundation, visit online at www.sandalsfoundation.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.