For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 21, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Bushy Park United Church in Ramble, St Thomas, has been on a mission to change the educational outcome of youth within the community through the establishment of a homework centre that serves up to 50 students. Now with support from the VM Group, the church, which allows students to use the facility for online classes, homework, printing and research, is expanding its impact in the community.
Carlos Shepherd, Elder and Leader of the church’s Youth Fellowship, said the initiative was started two years ago, before the pandemic to allow children in the community to have access to a computer to do homework assignments and projects but was discontinued due to lack of access to the internet.
It was restarted this year to allow children doing classes virtually to access the internet and do assignments in a safe, comfortable space. Between 10 and 20 children are physically present for online classes each day, while others from the community access the devices and internet for printing and research.
Shepherd said the initiative was needed in the community as it could be observed that some children were falling behind in their attendance and academic performance.
“So far it has been very impactful. We see the grades are starting to improve and the children are attending more classes online and completing their homework assignments,” he said, adding that this is a personal passion of his, having not attended school regularly himself due to a lack of financial resources.
“We are doing this because we want persons to understand that it doesn’t matter your financial status, you should have access to education for a chance at a better future. We believe that education is the backbone of our society, and we have students in the community who have great potential and should get that opportunity,” Shepherd said.
The VM Group donated $100,000 towards the church’s back-to-school treat, which supplied books, tablets and other school supplies for persons at the school. In addition, the organization has committed to helping with the church’s internet bill for the next 12 months.
Clover Moore, Assistant Vice President of Group Corporate Affairs and Communications at VM, during a visit last week, said she was impressed with the work of the Bushy Park United Church to positively support the academic achievements of the youth in the community.
“We are happy to be giving back in this way and are really excited about the work this church is doing in the community to ensure that the youth here, who have such tremendous potential, can have the access they need to succeed. I am impressed by their commitment and their focus on the children during this challenging time and how they were able to maximise the resources they received,” she said.
Shepherd meanwhile expressed gratitude to VM for coming on board, noting that the contribution has made a significant difference to them being able to continue hosting students.