Sandals Foundation Continues its Commitment
Kingston, Jamaica, August 23, 2017;
Some 25 Jamaican secondary students will benefit again this year under the Sandals Foundation’s “Care for Kids” Program at a value of over JMD$1.25million. This forms part of a five-year commitment by the Foundation to cover the costs of tuition, uniforms and books for these students who were selected from communities in which Sandals Resorts are located. An additional 23 scholarships have also been issued to students in the islands of St. Lucia, Grenada, Exuma and Antigua, as well as to two tertiary students from Jamaica pursuing bachelor degrees.
“At the Foundation, we are focused on encouraging dreams, and education is certainly one of the best vehicles for this,” said Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke. “We also believe in supporting the communities in which our resorts are located, and where our team members live. In this way, we hope to contribute to a generation of future leaders of the Caribbean.”
Clarke highlighted the fact that several of the recipients of the program have gone on to pursue tertiary degrees in the fields of social work, business, education and medicine. One recipient, Nicole Nation, is a doctor who, at the age of 23, was selected as Jamaica’s first female Queen’s Young Leader, an award which she collected from her majesty Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2015. The award recognized Nation’s philanthropic work in helping to raise awareness about disabilities in Jamaica, through the founding of her volunteer group, Volunteer Nation.
Students in the Care for Kids program are encouraged to volunteer at Foundation events and projects and must maintain at least a “B” average, in addition to excellent behavior records. Many older participants are also employed in the summer at Sandals and Beaches Resorts, while all participants are invited on an annual excursion by each hotel’s public relations team which includes the presentation of sponsorship cheques. As an example, this year’s group of students hailing from St Ann and St Mary were treated to a day at Beaches Boscobel and a tour of Sandals Foundation’s Boscobel Marine Sanctuary, as well as a special treat to see the hatching of 300 baby turtles on nearby Gibraltar Beach, which is part of a tour run by Island Routes and led by conservationist Mel Tennant in support of the protection of this endangered species.
“Instead of an annual award ceremony, we try to expose our students to new and different tourism-related experiences that they may not be able to do on their own,” explained Lyndsay Isaacs, Regional Public Relations Manager, Sandals Ocho Rios. “This exposure can be instrumental in shaping career paths and, in fact, just recently one of our current summer interns and a former scholarship recipient told me that her interest in working in tourism was inspired by the exposure she had on one of these summer trips.”
Since 1988, the Sandals Group has been providing financial aid for Jamaican students; a program that assisted 290 persons over a 20-year period. When the Sandals Foundation was established in 2009, it then assumed responsibility for the program, which has expanded with each year to a total of 174 participants to date. This program is part of the Foundation’s longstanding focus on improving education in Jamaica and across the Caribbean islands in which Sandals operates and also includes school upgrades, teacher training, enrichment programs, and book and school supply distribution. Over 300 schools and 129,000 students in the region have been impacted by educational initiatives supported by the Sandals Foundation.