'Early-childhood education the best investment you can make'
Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson may have been launching the Bold Ones for 2012 yesterday, but the manufacturing mentorship programme was not the only thing on his mind.
Hendrickson took time out to introduce guests to Crayons Count, an early-childhood development project started by Deika Morrison and her Do Good Jamaica initiative.
"It is important that we stop our children's slide. We can't lose another generation," he pleaded.
"Early-childhood education matters because it's the best investment you can make in the life of a child," said Hendrickson. Studies show children learn fastest and best at the early stages. The curriculum being put together involves learning manners and values, self-confidence, motor skills, basics of literacy and numeracy and national pride (for example, learning the pledge and symbols). The hope is to give them the right foundation for future learning.
"The children will be able to progress more comfortably through the system at the higher grades. If the children are not properly engaged in the early years, it's a missed opportunity," he said.
Citing a severe shortage of learning material in Jamaica, he said that Crayons Count would be seeking to address that.
A number of companies are already on board, including The Gleaner, which offers a colouring page every Saturday. But Hendrickson encouraged members of the audience to speak about it, raise awareness of the initiative and urged parents to motivate their children to learn. The donations don't have to be huge either.
"It can be crayons, a book, a pair of scissors, anything," said Morrison.
She pointed out that another benefit of the initiative was that "some of the schools that weren't regularised are doing so now because they want to get in on it". She encouraged any early-childhood learning institutions that aren't properly registered with the Early Childhood Commission to do so in order to benefit. Like the Bold Ones, Crayons Count will be displayed on National Bakery trucks and vans, spreading the word of the initiative islandwide. Morrison said they hope to distribute the material collected in the schools in September.