Tue | Mar 2, 2021

Kingdom Builders outreach rescues August Town children

Published:Friday | January 15, 2021 | 12:07 AMJonielle Daley/Gleaner Writer

THE KINGDOM Builders Outreach Programme continues to preserve with the help of good Samaritans stretching forth their hands to assist with the development of the students in the rugged August Town, St Andrew community.

Since the first Gleaner article published on September 2 of last year, The Kingdom Builders has received various items and assistance to aid children in the different programmes offered.

At the end of the summer term, which concluded in September for the learning centre, a celebratory ceremony was held to congratulate the students on their commitment to learning and staying abreast in preparation for the reopening of school.

Ricardo Williams explained that this was important as a source of encouragement for them to keep pushing, by acknowledging their efforts. They all received certificates and those that did exceptionally well were gifted tablets by a donor who resides in Canada.

When school reopened in October, the learning centre remained open. “We let them come there and we provide them with the Internet and assist them with their online classes,” shared Williams.

His wife, Simone Williams, who founded the outreach alongside her husband, told The Gleaner that the idea of the children being out of school did not sit well with them. As such, they started out in their two-bedroom house until someone suggested a different location and more students and parents became interested and they were careful in following the COVID-19 protocols.

With some schools offering face-to-face classes, she said parents have been asking for after-school care, homework programme and Saturday classes, among other services. “We don’t have space, the building is in a situation right now because the building really needs fixing,” said Simone. She explained that the roof leaks in certain sections, limiting time and space whenever it rains and also that it is in need of a paint job.

Outside of the 20 students who constantly show up to use the learning centre, the number of children that take part in the outreach continues to expand as students’ children of varying age groups are lured in by the different programmes, such as football and art.

“We have the football competitions running where we play games home and away,” said Williams, while adding that they have done team building workshops to not just improve their skill, but also to foster the meaning of a team and community. This way of sweet escape and rewarding engagement was fuelled by a member of the community that has sponsored the team for competitions and also a member in a church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who donated cash to purchase a few pairs of football shoes for members of the team.

BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS

The children have also been a part of floristry training for event decoration and continue to take part in a business programme hosted and funded by Mona Social Services (MSS), held on the campus of UWI, Mona, whereby at the end of three entrepreneurial workshops two persons with the best business idea and execution will walk away with an award, funding to help further develop their ideas and the money they have earned from the business venture.

“What Mona Social Services does is that they recruit persons from the community to train in that area and they working with some of the youths from the outreach,” shared Williams, who recently graduated from UWI and is employed at MSS as a social worker.

He describes the journey so far as very fulfilling as the aim of the Outreach to train young minds to think and to foster holistic development is being actualised. While he lauds all who have contributed to the cause, he was keen on mentioning Dr Lester Sheilds, a councillor at the University of The Mona Health Centre who has reached out and provided psychological evaluations for children as part of the programme, 13 years and younger.

Those interested in furthering the mission of the Kingdom Builders Outreach Programme can contact Ricardo Williams at 876-343-2911.