Children benefit from back-to-school fair
BOSCOBEL, St Mary:
Hundreds of children in Boscobel, St Mary, received free medical tests and back-to-school supplies last Friday thanks to an innovative collaboration between the local parish council, the Social Development Commission (SDC) and Red Cross.
According to local councillor Fitzroy Wilson, who coordinated the third annual Boscobel Health and Back-to-School Fair, the purpose of the event was to provide support for struggling parents and an entertaining day out for disadvantaged children in the area.
He told Rural Xpress: "This is an annual thing where I organise a back-to-school treat for the kids. We realise that because of a lack of financial resources, each year, most of the parents in this area have problems getting medicals for their kids before they go back to school.
"So we have coordinated with agencies such as the St Mary Health Department, the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, the Registrar General's Department, Jamaica Public Service and the National Water Commission, to bring them into the community, and then we ask the parents to come out, support, and bring the kids.
"We give away things like books, pens and pencils, and with the assistance of the member of parliament (Jolyan Silvera), help the kids pay their auxiliary fees.
"I try to do something for the kids every year and believe it's necessary for communities such as this because as you can see, the kids respond well, and it's good for the parents because they have less things to worry about in terms of finding resources."
The SDC's community development officer Desmond Sinclair added: "I think there were over 700 people here today, with around 200 children receiving back-to-school supplies.
"Today was very important because there are many people who, on a daily basis, curse the Government and its agencies, but events like this allow them to become aware of the roles and functions of these agencies and how they can be of benefit.
"So for example, the HEART Trust/NTA were here recruiting skilled people for two major hotels on the north coast. That's not something you see on a daily basis, but it does happen."
Local resident and parent Elaine Hibbert said: "Today was really good because the children got to enjoy themselves and see the doctor for a medical. To be honest, it will help me a lot in terms of finances."
Health educator at the St Mary Health Department Candice Edwards, who tested dozens of parents and children throughout the day, hailed the event as a success and praised the organisers for targeting people from hard-to-reach communities.
She said: "Today, we have been talking to people about healthy lifestyles and habits, diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts, and how to get rid of mosquito-breeding sites in and around the home.
"Events such as this give us a chance to speak with people and provide them with information about how to look after their families and prolong their own lives, so they are very beneficial for everyone involved."