Joi-Ann Henry thrives on passion to help others
Twelve-year-old Joi-Ann Henry has a passion for helping those who are financially challenged.
Her care for others can be seen in the Helping Hands programme she initiated last year at her school, Mona Heights Primary, after being appointed head girl.
The programme caters to needy students by raising money to help with lunch and, if necessary, buying shoes or bags for those in need.
Joi-Ann said she started the programme because she noticed "that many children did not have any money to afford breakfast and such".
Mona Heights Primary, a school with students of varied backgrounds, has 200 beneficiaries on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
However, the PATH only covers students' nutritional needs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Principal Fabian Mahabeer said the school was excited to help when Joi-Ann first suggested the project.
He said there are many students who are not on PATH, and, because the nutrition programme only covers Mondays and Wed-nesdays, the Helping Hands programme aids students who do not have help.
Helping Hands utilises bake sales to raise the money, and Joi-Ann and her family often ask people and establishments, such as Jamaica Money Market Brokers Ltd, to sponsor them. As a result of the project and a helpful parent, Steve Ferguson, who makes the breakfast for free, students who have no money receive porridge and sandwiches for breakfast. The project also provides regular lunches to the students.
Guidance counselor Colleen McBean said that as a result of the programme, "the students now look forward to coming to school".
Helping Hands feeds up to 200 students every Wednesday.
Apart from the project she initiated, Joi-Ann is also very active in her school's Cultural Speech and Drama Club, which advocates for road safety.
Though she helps with many projects and participates heavily at school, she also does well academically and still manages to enjoy her childhood with the support of her family.
"I feel good because it was right in line with the values in what we would have taught her," said her proud father, The Reverend Andrew Henry.
- Chenelle Paharsingh