Rural Express: Hatfield Primary pleased with new playing field
Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Hatfield, Manchester:No longer will the children of the Hatfield Primary & Junior High school have to worry about renting a venue for their sporting activities as a partnership among the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), school administrators, and the member of parliament (MP) for the division has afforded them their very own playing field.
Having waited more than six years for the completion of this project, the educators and community members alike are happy that the initiative, started by former MP Dean Peart in 2009, has now reached the point of significant benefit.
"The boys and girls of Hatfield will become better students," stated education officer S. Buchanan-Murray.
"We look forward to seeing the improvement in motor coordination, in the socialisation process, and, most of all, in the teaching and learning process because we know that children enjoy learning through play."
General manager of the Sports Development Foundation Denzil Wilks said that such a project will have the community and the school working in tandem, with an even greater need to protect the investment.
With the tendency to have community infrastructure vandalised by a mischievous lot, whether from the community or an adjoining area, MP Mikael Phillips said that the upkeep, operations, and security should be shared between community members and school administrators.
"It is critical that we have proper infrastructure not only for the learning of our children, but also extra-curricular activity. It is incumbent on the school community and the wider community to care this sporting facility. We are operating in a tight fiscal space, and as the member of parliament, I will not be spending any additional resources on this facility as it is now," said Phillips.
The MP stated that at some point, persons requesting the space for events would have to pay a fee, however, he said that no one hosting parties or dances would be granted use of said space.
In addition to the transformation of an area into a playing field, goal posts, a motorised lawn mower, a weed whacker, and footballs were donated, making the total amount spent J$8 million.
"We're very grateful for the playing field. We have been waiting for years for one. When we play on the tennis court, we get a lot of aches because we fall so many times, so we're happy that the MP was able to help us," said ninth-grade student Keisha Smith.
For eighth-grade student Adrian Rowe, his love for football will be better accommodated with an area conducive to the sport.
"I play football, and I used to play on the court, and it was hard because of the surface, but now, with an actual field, I can play in comfort and do better."
With several sporting greats coming out of the parish, Minister with responsibility for Sports Natalie Neita-Headley, who was present for the handover, stated that more rural schools would receive similar donations.
"In the past, there was quite a bit of focus on urban schools. the SDF has changed that over many years, where we have been going out to rural communities to ensure that sports development is not just for Kingston, but for all of Jamaica.
"We have 24 high schools that we are now doing as part of the sports infrastructure improvement project, and one of those schools is in Manchester, and that one is going to get a brand-new playing field down at Holmwood Technical High school."
The minister added that these initiatives seek to bring about a culture of living healthier.