Free supplies for 900-plus students
Freeport News Reporter
A joint effort between a government entity and community partners Saturday prepared hundreds of students in the Garden Villas community and surrounding areas to return to school next week.
Urban Renewal, the Kiwanis Club of Freeport, Christ the King and Reach Out Ministry all teamed up for a 'Back-to-School' Jamboree at the Pineridge Urban Renewal Center Park where children received medical check-ups, dental screenings, bags, books, pens, pencils and were treated to a day of all around fun.
With many on the island faced with monetary constraints because of the poor state of the local economy, parents said the event was most needed.
Natasha Stuart, who took her son to the back-to-school event said she was excited when she found out about it and the event was a great aid to parents.
"We need it in our community because a lot of parents are either too busy or they don't have the funds to go to the private clinics or whatever, so this initiative is really good that you could just come and get it done for free," she said.
A parent who identified herself as Linda said, she was extremely pleased with the event because there are many people in the community who cannot afford to properly prepare their children for school.
"This is very good for people like me who are unemployed and I would like to thank them for whatever they have done and whatever they are doing. It's a good help and I appreciate it," she said.
Minister of Grand Bahama and Member of Parliament for Pineridge Dr. Michael Darville also noted that with the economic challenges facing the island, and notably the Pineridge constituency the back to school jamboree held great significance.
"Pineridge was one of the constituencies that was hit the hardest during the economic crisis and in my canvassing of the Pineridge constituency I've found many, many people unemployed and that is a stressful situation and if the parents are unemployed, ultimately the children do feel the burden," he said, "Today is one of the exercises that we intend to do throughout Grand Bahama to bring relief."
Darville also partnered with Kiwanis to provide physical and dental exams for children as they headed back to school last year and said the event, that has expanded, is intended to be carried out annually.
Dudley Seide, president of Reach Out Ministry said it is his organization's fifth year of holding its back-to-school jamboree in the Garden Villas area and partnering with the different organizations made it a grander affair.
Seide said he was happy to see that the children enjoyed themselves and wanted the event to change people's perception of that community.
"Good people live here and we just want to have the kids prepared because it is so rough and parents can't find books and pencils, so all of us came together just to make this thing work today," he said.
Inspector Henry Rolle, police coordinator for Urban Renewal Grand Bahama said the event was a testament of what Urban Renewal seeks to achieve.
"Since the implementation of the Urban Renewal Program we have set out a goal and that is to engage in positive youth and believe it or not, this is a testimony of what we have planted so far in Grand Bahama," he said.
Monty G, who also provided school supplies for the children said he felt moved to aid the community.
"A lot of people don't have it today and I believe in giving and I am a Christian myself and this is one of the greatest ways to show your belief and love for God," he said. At the end of the day I just have a heart for seeing these kids be able to have the things they need to go to school because I know the pressure is on the parents and a lot of people are out of jobs," he said.
President of the Kiwanis Club of Freeport, Dr. Charlene Reid- Morris, said the club has committed to the yearly medical and dental fair as a means to help the community and teach children to give back.
"Regardless of how things are, I think that when we make an impact on one child it impacts the entire community economically and socially, so what we try to do is encourage the children and let them know that we are here to support them and this will impact them in the sense that when they go back to school they will remember us trying to help them and when they grow up they will try to help someone else," she said.
© 2012 The Freeport News