NFL players give back to Negril students
Through Our Eyes Foundation Executive Director Jon LeSane says that, despite the absence of their sport, regular sports camps offered them an opportunity to meet the urgent needs of school children in Negril.
The non-profit organisation, which comprises current and former National Football League (NFL) players, visited Negril recently, donating tablets and other essential items to students at Little London High School and Grange Hill High School, as part of its Bridge The Gap: Jamaica initiative. This is the second time that the foundation has visited Jamaica, but unlike their 2018 visit, where they hosted sports camps for the children of Granville All-Age School, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic made a similar venture impossible. However, LeSane said that it gave them a chance to help students who are in need of assistance learning from home.
“We were all hearing that they needed devices for doing school at home,” LeSane told The Gleaner. “So that’s why we made it a goal and a target not only to get them tablets, but other things, like hand sanitiser, masks, school supplies — really just try to go out of our way to hopefully fill in some of the areas that they needed some assistance in.
“It was different for us because we are used to being a lot more hands-on doing sports-oriented activities. But getting with the times, and knowing the restrictions because of COVID, we went out there and asked questions first [about what they needed].”
Since the pandemic, schools have had to transition to online learning for the majority of the year, with some institutions at a disadvantage because of a lack of the required tools for their students. Grange Hill High School principal Errol Stewart said that the donations made to the students will have both short- and long-term benefits.
“Our students have been through the struggles for many months,” Stewart said. “Internet issues, device issues. And here you are answering our call so that some more students can go online and can benefit.
“What you are doing is not for today only. It’s a massive help you are giving these students. You are in fact preparing the next generation from Grange Hill High School to take on the world.”
Among the players that offered encouragement to the students are former NFL safety Abram Elam, who, during their donation to Grange Hill High, charged the students to make learning their priority.
“Education can take you all the way across the world. Don’t neglect it. Take that into consideration. Do well in your school work because it can do a lot of great things for you,” Elam said.
While the foundation has managed to assist other countries, LeSane said that Jamaica has been a destination of choice to give the connection that they fostered during their last visit three years ago, a connection LeSane says that they are keen to continue.
“When we connected with the children in Jamaica, it was probably the biggest connection we ever made as far as feeling like we were at home,” he said. Feeling like we could communicate with the children and really share knowledge and have a good time, it just seemed like the right place to continue doing our work especially when it comes to way things are happening with the pandemic,” LeSane said. “We try to target communities that we feel like not only are places that we love to travel to, but places that we thought the children will appreciate the contributions that we have.”