WESTMORELAND, JAMAICA (April 2019): Recess just took on a new meaning for the over 260 students at the Culloden Early Childhood Institute (ECI) in Westmoreland after the Sandals Foundation installed a brand new play area at the school, further promoting the holistic development of the students and making the school an even more attractive candidate for certification by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).
“For years we have been dreaming of a play area that is aesthetically pleasing and meets the expectations of the Early Childhood Commission,” said Culloden ECI Principal, Michelle Whittingham. “This long-standing dream is now a reality thanks to the Sandals Foundation.
Whittingham noted that the students are very excited about their new play area and that having it at the school has also boosted the children’s interest in coming to school.
In 2009, the Sandals Foundation took Culloden ECI into its Care for Kids – Adopt a School programme. Since then, the Foundation has invested over $35 million in the school which includes the construction of the original classrooms and daycare, the integration of a three-year-long Project Sprout early childhood intervention programme, teacher training and a fully outfitted computer lab among other learning manipulatives. The Foundation spent close to J$2 million to expand the play area and install the new playset.
“This latest investment is an extension of our ongoing support for the Culloden Early Childhood Institution. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the students have the most conducive environment within which to learn and develop,” said Sandals Foundation Executive Director, Heidi Clarke.
She continued, “In working to create the best learning environment for our children, we cannot underestimate the importance of play as a factor in healthy brain development. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them and we are very happy to have been able to improve this at Culloden.”
Clarke also extended gratitude to Beaches Negril who donated the playset valued at over US$40,000 and the Sandals Resorts Project teams from Negril and South Coast who were critical in transporting, upgrading and overseeing the installation of the playground. The project also received financial backing from the Yellow Bird Foundation.
The new play area boasts colorful and child-safe slides, climbing structures and other play equipment.