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GoodHeart | Elletson Primary and Infant School gets spruced up on Labour Day

Sagicor Foundation works to brighten schools’ futures

Published:Saturday | May 25, 2024 | 12:07 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer
Nicole Campbell Robinson, vice president of communications, digital media and CSR at Sagicor Group, joins Debbie Meek, principal of Elletson Primary and Infant School, and Clarence Ennis, community rep on the school board, as they get their hands dirty in
Nicole Campbell Robinson, vice president of communications, digital media and CSR at Sagicor Group, joins Debbie Meek, principal of Elletson Primary and Infant School, and Clarence Ennis, community rep on the school board, as they get their hands dirty in the school’s freshly established garden.
Advantage General Insurance team members Anita Dunkley (left), Deonjay Ewen, and Daynalee King (right) are all smiles as they cultivate the soil of Elleston Primary and Infant School’s new garden.
Advantage General Insurance team members Anita Dunkley (left), Deonjay Ewen, and Daynalee King (right) are all smiles as they cultivate the soil of Elleston Primary and Infant School’s new garden.
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Following the mid-term break, approximately 145 students at Elletson Primary and Infant School, including those in the special education unit and the infant department, will find their school environment more comfortable. This positive change was made possible as volunteers from the Sagicor Foundation, alongside the school’s administrators, conducted much-needed cleaning and painting on Labour Day.

The school, located in the inner-city community of Dunkirk in Kingston, has seen its population dwindle over the years, as scores of residents have vacated the volatile community. Those that have remained are fearful of the ongoing violence in the area, and this has resulted in low attendance for many of the students.

However, the school’s administrators, including Principal Debbie Meek, are optimistic that, with ongoing support from volunteers, donors, and corporate sponsors, their efforts will elevate the school, making it a formidable institution in the coming years.

Elletson Primary and Infant School began operations in 1898, and was founded by the Elletson Methodist Church. The school moved to its current location at 1 Bryden Street in 1970.

“Half of the classrooms are not in use, as the student population has decreased significantly. Many persons are afraid to venture into the community, especially [through] the entrance that is now being used. There have been recommendations for the school’s entrance to be relocated, which would perhaps ease the anxiety of those wanting to make a wholesome contribution towards the development of the school,” Meek told GoodHeart.

The Sagicor Foundation team painted two of the three special education classrooms, which are part of an extension of the Randolph Lopez School of Hope located on the school’s premises. They also planted a vegetable garden, installed an irrigation system, and performed general weeding.

“It is a timely gesture, and we are very appreciative of the efforts to assist us. It is always a great feeling when corporate Jamaica assists schools in inner-city communities. It helps to motivate the children and the community, which has a positive impact on the school in general,” Meek said.

According to Mark Chisholm, chief revenue officer, Sagicor Life Insurance Company, the projects undertaken by Sagicor are not just about improving the aesthetics of the facilities; they aim to create environments that are welcoming and inclusive for everyone.

“We want individuals with special needs to feel like they have a place where they belong, where they can thrive and participate fully in community life. By beautifying these facilities, we are not only making a tangible difference in the lives of those who use them, but we are also sending a powerful message of inclusion to the broader community. We want to show that individuals with special needs are valued members of society, deserving of the same opportunities and respect as everyone else, and Labour Day is the perfect opportunity for us to come together as a team and make a meaningful impact that will be felt for years to come.”

The Sagicor Foundation conducted beautification efforts at two special needs facilities: Elleston Primary and Infant School in Kingston and The Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf in Montego Bay. Volunteers participated in projects to enhance these facilities by painting classrooms, planting gardens, and improving the accessibility of outdoor spaces.

Meek said the school’s infant department has been working towards certification from the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), and there are a few other priority areas, including a garbage skip, that they need to meet the qualifications.

To provide further assistance to the Elletson Primary and Infant School you may send an email to elletson.primary.kin.moey.gov.jm or via phone at 876 205-5328.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com