Mon | Oct 2, 2023

Red Stripe leaves no man or mind behind

Published:Friday | February 4, 2022 | 12:07 AM

THE LIVES of some 7,500 students and their families across Jamaica are being positively impacted by Red Stripe’s ‘No Mind Left Behind’ project. The goal of the project is to “foster academic excellence and personal development for youth, specifically focusing on young people, ages three to 18,” said Red Stripe’s Head of Corporate Affairs Dianne Ashton-Smith.

The beer company, through its Desnoes & Geddes (D&G) Foundation, is seeking to transform the lives of the youth by providing “increased access to educational tools, social interventions and experiential activities or excursions where possible,” Ashton-Smith pointed out. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Stripe’s corporate affairs head noted that the foundation recognised that there is a pressing need in the education sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She pointed to learning loss and the heightened risk of student disengagement, particularly for the most vulnerable, which can have long-lasting effects on their life outcomes and their future economic growth and well-being, as major concerns.

As a result, through the No Mind Left Behind initiative, 21 schools from eight parishes - Kingston and St Andrew, Manchester, St Thomas, St James, St Catherine, St Ann, Trelawny and Clarendon - benefited from an investment of approximately $10.1 million. Students and their families across a number of institutions, including seven basic schools, six primary schools, seven high schools and one special-needs intervention centre, received support.

The foundation donated sanitisation tools and equipment such as automatic sanitiser dispensers, hand-held thermometers and food packages “because we were recognising that a number of the parents weren’t able to provide lunch for the children and for the family itself,” Ashton Smith disclosed.

Notably, Red Stripe also provided 150 tablet computers, which were distributed across their ‘adopted schools’ including Seaview Gardens Primary School, Coburn Garden Primary and Junior High, Christian Early Childhood Academy and Callaloo Mews Basic School.

Developing life skills

In addition to providing food packages, sanitisation items and devices for online learning, the D&G Foundation zeroed in on at-risk boys through an expanded programme, titled ‘No Male Left Behind’. “We recognise that a lot of our male youths are largely falling behind and becoming marginalised. They’re not fully equipped with the educational, vocational and emotional needs for social integration, for employment, job creation and psychological maturity and so we assist, train and mentor at-risk boys from secondary institutions, particularly in St Thomas,” Ashton-Smith outlined.

Through the No Male Left Behind programme, the D&G Foundation is aiming to develop the boys’ life skills, maximise their learning potential and enhance their creative talents and abilities in key technical and vocational subject areas. Through this impactful programme, Yallahs High School received two laptops for teachers, 10 tablets and care packages for the 10 males participating in the project.

Sheldon Howell, guidance counsellor at Yallahs High School in St Thomas, wholeheartedly welcomed the project and is grateful for the positive impact on the boys. “It is a project that we welcome at the academy of Yallahs High School, because it caters to at-risk young men and we are grateful for the support that Red Stripe has been giving,” he said.

Howell is particularly happy for the donation of digital devices. “We are presently going through a pandemic and a lot of students are impacted with regards to the online learning experience and many of these boys were unable to participate because of financial challenges. They were not able to do so because many of them did not have a device. But the programme was able to secure devices for these young men and provide a greater opportunity for them to be able to access online classes,” Howell pointed out.

The teams from the D&G Foundation also took the time to personally connect and engage with the boys at Yallahs High School. “They would have rap session with them, they would encourage them, mentor them. This is the type of support that we really need at this time,” the guidance counsellor emphasised.

Beaming with gratitude, Howell concluded that “had it not been for the support of Red Stripe, the future of these boys would not be so bright. But Red Stripe coming on board has given them another opportunity at pursuing their career goals and we really, really want to say thanks to Red Strip for this partnership”.