WESTERN FOCUS - Success by Six gets J$5.5 million donation
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
The Success by Six programme, an initiative of the Tryall Fund in Hanover, received a boost recently, when villa owners Daniel Wegman and his wife, Stency, presented a US$50,000 (approximately J$5.5 million) cheque to assist with the funds activities.
Programme administrator, Jacqueline Smith, accepted the cheque at a presentation ceremony which was held at the Tryall Great House in Sandy Bay, Hanover.
Success by Six, (Jacqueline) Smith explained, is a model programme for three- to five-year-olds, and caters to the educational, literacy, health and nutrition needs of children attending early childhood institutions within Hanover.
It was started by the Tryall Fund in 2009, with the Sandy Bay Basic School as the pilot school. When we started there with the literacy and numeracy tests, it was conducted with 20 students, and it was found that only one student was ready for Grade One. However, by June, 18 children were ready, said Smith.
She said that based on the initial success of the programme, it was expanded to include five other basic schools, namely the Hopewell Christian Deliverance Centre, Chambers Pen, Cold Spring, Pond Side and Mont Pelier Basic Schools.
The programme involves a literacy segment centred on phonics and reading. However, according to Smith, the nutrition component was introduced after it was observed that a large number of students were coming to school without eating breakfast.
"We saw many students coming to school without breakfast and others had snack bags that were filled with sugary stuff, so we collaborated with Food For The Poor, and we now have three schools on the breakfast programme, but all schools have a lunch programme, so students get at least one cooked nutritious meal with or without money. We have seen a marked improvement in their ability to learn," she explained.
She said a week-long workshop, targeting the cooks and kitchen staff of the six schools participating in the programme, is conducted annually by a professional chef, and that parenting and caregiving skills and guidance workshops are also held three times per year.
Smith said another major component of the programme is the application of the legal standards established by the Early Childhood Commission. Three of the six schools, Sandy Bay Basic, Pond Side Basic and Hopewell Deliverance Centre Basic Schools have attained 75 per cent compliance.
To complement the Success by Six programme, the tennis training initiative titled Play and Stay, sponsored by Tennis Jamaica and the Spanish Jamaica Foundation was also introduced at the schools.
We use smaller nets and soft balls for this programme for the four- and five-year-old children, which ultimately helps with the development of hand, eye and foot coordination and also helps them to listen better and develops their ability to follow multiple instructions. That is what we have found from our observation, Smith said.
Since its inception in 2009, 620 students, 275 parents 18 early-childhood teachers and six cooks have benefited directly from the Success by Six programme.