Goodwill centre to get new school courtesy of Helping Hands Jamaica
The Toronto-based Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) has set out to raise CDN$100,000 to construct a new building for the Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre in Port Antonio, Portland.
The “Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre is desperately seeking assistance to upgrade its infrastructure so that it can receive recognition and certification from the Ministry of Education under which early childhood institutions should operate”, HHJF member Natasha Borota told The Gleaner.
“A new school building, with all the required amenities that are currently lacking, would help to fulfil the school’s most urgent needs,” she added.
Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre, which was established in September 2016, currently caters to 25 toddlers who range from three to six years old. However, it was started by its founder and principal, Tanisha Smith-Thompson, with 10 students. With the growth in the number of students, the facility outgrew the space it occupied with two other tenants in a plaza.
“This led to a litany of issues and concerns that created an unconducive and unsafe learning environment,including student exposure to lewd music and second-hand smoke, inaccessibility to the building in the early hours, high rent, flooding, no sick bay or play equipment for the children, improper furniture for young learners, and shared washroom facilities with other tenants of the plaza,” Borota said.
The school was relocated to the office area in the Port Antonio Open Bible Church, but Goodwill Early Childhood Learning Centre continues to experience hardships and hazards that have an impact on student learning. According to Borota, there are “no classroom partitions, no playground, shared bathroom for all students and staff, (and) no fences to keep students safe within the property”.
Despite these challenges, Borota said, “The parents and staff are overwhelmingly pleased with quality of care and education that their children receive from (the principal) and her staff.”
Consequently, the HHJF has decided to assist the early childhood learning facility by constructing a new building, which will be outfitted with the amenities to improve the learning environment for the toddlers. The HHJF has also decided to dedicate the project to the memory of its founder and former president, Denise Jones, who was also from the parish.
HHJF will be providing:
· A wooden school building with a corrugated metal roof, built on a solid steel-reinforced foundation
· Kitchen with fridge and stove
· Office with staff bathroom
· Sick bay
· Student bathrooms
· Four classrooms fitted with age-appropriate student furniture
Construction has begun and is expected to be completed in time for the new school year in the fall of 2021.