Educational development key to nation building - Moss-Solomon
"Education, not hand-outs, is a more sustainable developmental tool with assured longevity," asserted James Moss-Solomon, chairman of the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, as he addressed a combined meeting of Club Chapters, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston at the Police Officers Club recently.
"The GraceKennedy Education Run is not about merely keeping fit, having a competitive event, or even winning. It is about education, and more specifically, the education of our young people in distressed communities," Moss-Solomon said.
In his address, Moss-Solomon spoke to the formation of the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, which, he said, was "forged in the fires of the mid-70s and fueled by the blood of men and women who died in the streets, and of parentless children who grew to endure a similar fate."
To address the societal ills of the '70s, GraceKennedy's Chair & CEO Carlton Alexander, company accountant Sam Richards, and Moss-Solomon began the "Grace and Staff movement" on a sidewalk at the intersection of Harbour and Hanover streets.
BETTER OUTCOMES FOR YOUTH
Their action was followed by an all-staff meeting at the Jamaica Conference Centre. At that meeting, the staff committed to voluntary contributions, to be matched by the company at a 2:1 ratio. Initially, the contributions went towards small loans for funding micro projects. In the 1980s, the focus shifted more directly to education, he outlined, as the company realised that better outcomes could be had with dedication to working directly with the youth in their educational development as opposed to only giving grants.
Over the nearly four decades since its formation, the foundation has assisted thousands of children; many of whom have won scholarships to local and overseas institutions. Currently, there are more than 130 persons pursuing tertiary education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Today, there are six educational centres, including a state-of-the-art GraceKennedy-
Parade Gardens Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Centre on Water Lane.
Education, he emphasised, remains the golden key to maximising opportunities for children in depressed communities, and in that regard, he turned to the foundation's upcoming GK Education 5K Run event as a critical means of providing this funding.
... 10,000 runners wanted
Reiterating the underlying theme for the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation's upcoming fundraiser, 'This Is Why We Run', chairman James Moss-Solomon is appealing for service club members to support the event.
"We need 10,000 or more to participate," Moss-Solomon said of the GraceKennedy Education Run.
"We need you to bring others to share in the educational achievements of our children, we need you to learn the lessons of love that we get back in multiples from our children, and we need you to help with the transformation that will allow our children to be safer, to be top achievers and useful citizens."
The education run event this year takes place on Sunday, July 9, in downtown Kingston and incorporates walking, cycling and wheelchair categories, and, most recently, rowing, in addition to the traditional 5K run. It is scheduled to start at 6 a.m. on Port Royal Street.