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Making the Mark
Royalton White Sands' director of sales, Kerry-Ann Quallo-Casserly (right), and front desk receptionist Saneika Evans embrace students of the Spicy Hill Early Childhood Institution during the official opening ceremony recently.
Food for the Poor's Samantha Mahfood (right), Minister of Education Ronald Twhaites (centre) and Canadian High Commissioner Sylvain Fabi greet students at the official opening of the Spicy Hill Early Childhood Institution, along with other stakeholders
Royalton White Sands' Kerry-Ann Quallo-Casserly addresses teachers, administrators and students at the Spicy Hill Early-Childhood Institution

Sunwing opens early-childhood school

Janet Silvera, Hospitality Jamaica Coordinator

Less than two years after opening its first Jamaican hotel, the Sunwing Travel Group, through its Sunwing Foundation, has funded the construction of an early-childhood institution in Trelawny.

The school, Spicy Hill Early Childhood Institution, was officially opened by Minister of Education Reverend Ronald Thwaites; Canadian High Commissioner Sylvain Fabi, and Food for the Poor's Samantha Mahfood recently.

Some 85 students are enrolled at the facility, which was built in collaboration with Food for the Poor.

"Our plan is to support youth, education and training initiatives, which is the key, if we are to effect positive change in these communities," Kerry-Ann Quallo-Casserly, director of sales at Royalton White Sands in Trelawny, told the gathering.

The Sunwing Travel Group has a strong affiliation with Royalton White Sands and is the hotel's exclusive partner in Canada. Quallo-Casserly pointed out that by making youth development central to the mission of the charitable initiative, the Sunwing Foundation hopes not only to improve the quality of life of the children of today, but also to empower them to succeed, providing them with positive aspirations for tomorrow, therefore, also strengthening their communities for many years to come.

The early childhood education institution also caters to the children of many Royalton White Sands staff.

According to the hotel executive, none of this would have been possible without the hard work of the entire team at Food for the Poor, both in Jamaica and in Canada.

"Thanks to Samantha Mahfood and all her colleagues and partners, including Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation. Food for the Poor has been pivotal in the construction of 23 schools across the island in just three years, and have made a significant contribution to the Jamaica 50 Campaign launched in 2012 to construct 50 new schools to coincide with the island's 50th anniversary. So we feel honoured to have collaborated with such a key partner in improving Jamaican education."

Quick construction

Construction on the school commenced in April this year, with the classrooms ready to be occupied by September.

"When the foundation learnt of the need for a school right here in Trelawny, they jumped at the chance to be involved," Quallo-Casserly revealed, stating that the cherry on the cake was to learn that involvement in this project would mean an enrichment of the quality of education for Jamaican children, which is so close to the Foundation's goals.

The children were also recipients of books from Books Give Us Wings, a Toronto-based charity run by Jamaica-born teacher, Myrna Gabbidon.

"Books Give Us Wings seeks to promote early literacy by ensuring that young children have their own reading books to take home and enjoy with their family," Quallo-Casserly stated. 

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