CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA (February 4, 2019) – The Sandals Foundation is reinforcing its pledge to youth development in St. Lucia, this time with the continuation of its sponsorship of the Tigers InFLOW Academy which is set to provide free weekly tennis lessons to over 390 students from nine primary schools in Castries this year. Since its inception in 2008, the program has given over 3000 children the opportunity to learn the sport free of cost with opportunities to learn lifelong skills and possibly to earn scholarships to further their dreams.
Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke, said this investment and continued support of the program is indicative of the Foundation’s commitment to youth engagement and development in the Caribbean.
“We are committed to supporting programs that are aimed at fostering the holistic development of children, especially those who are at risk of being led astray. We have proven repeatedly with youth sporting programs across the region that sports are an effective way of engaging with young people. Not only do they enjoy the activities, but it also instills lifelong skills and values such as discipline, teamwork, self-confidence as well as how to deal with the successes and failures that life will bring,” Clarke said. Since 2015, the Sandals Foundation has provided almost US$80,000 in funding to the Tigers InFLOW Academy, including funding for the complete resurfacing and fencing of two tennis courts in 2016.
In recent years, 12 children from the Tigers InFLOW Academy have secured scholarships to move on to university, many of whom were from families with financial difficulties. “With great joy, I can humbly say that I am blessed to work with a lot of kids who come from humble beginnings. It may be the most fulfilling part of my job to watch them succeed in life,” said Sirsean Arlain, Founder of the Tigers InFLOW Academy. “Our goal is to present the sport of tennis as a means to obtain a higher education. It is my duty to ensure that many are afforded opportunities that create life-changing avenues, which will help them in positive ways.”
The funding provided by the Sandals Foundation covers a stipend for the coaches, equipment, t-shirts and prizes. This year’s funding will also cover the purchase of a pressure washer and a ball machine for the program.
“The Sandals Foundation found us and made a difference in achieving the goal of reaching more kids, to create what is now known as the "Welcome to the Jungle Program" and St. Lucia's first Primary School's Tennis League and year-round league of any kind at this level and for that we extend our sincerest gratitude,” Arlain said.
Since its inception in 2009, the Sandals Foundation has invested heavily in youth engagement by developing and investing in programs across the region that utilize both sports and music as means of engaging at-risk youths in order to provide opportunities for higher learning and exposure that they would otherwise not have.