Principal of the Allman Town Primary School Latoya Nesbeth has commended the young organisers of a book drive from which the students at her Central Kingston institution have benefitted.
Co-founders of Books For Kids Ja, seventeen-year-old cousins Debra-Kaye and Savannah Smith handed over more than 50 reading books to the school on Thursday, March 17, giving a much-needed boost to a burgeoning reading programme there.
“The timing is perfect. We have 581 students and some of them are not reading at grade level. We will add these books to class reading corners. Our plan to improve overall literacy involves Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) sessions after lunch,” said Nesbeth.
Cofounders of ‘Books For Kids Ja’ Debra-Kaye Smith (second left) and Savannah Smith (second right) pose with Principal of the Allman Town Primary School Latoya Nesbeth (third right) and her students at the Central Kingston-based institution.
“During this period, students choose reading books from the reading corner, so the books we have received today will give our students a wider variety to choose from. We applaud Savannah and Debra-Kaye for this great initiative and for choosing Allman Town as one of their beneficiaries,” added Nesbeth.
Allman Town is the second school to benefit from the initiative, which the girls started in late February. The lower sixth form students, Debra -Kaye from Immaculate Conception High and Savannah from St Andrew High, made their first donation to Braeton Primary School in Portmore just ahead of the full resumption of face-to-face classes.
“We’re happy that schools have reopened because so many students were at a great disadvantage trying to manage online learning. But simply going back to the classroom isn’t going to fix all the issues,” said Debra-Kaye. “Learning loss is a real problem and we believe that reading is one way to help students overcome that hurdle.”
Co-founders of ‘Books For Kids Ja’, Debra-Kaye (left) and Savannah Smith (right) went to the Allman Town Primary School on Thursday (March 17) bearing gifts.
Avid readers themselves, the youngsters decided to not just donate their own books to younger students but to start a book drive, collecting good quality used reading books from friends, family and neighbours.
“The problems in our country are great, but we believe that each of us has a role to play in helping to make a difference. You don’t have to have a lot of money or power to make meaningful contributions, and that’s the message we are sending. We’re calling on all well-thinking young people to donate their reading books, and even if books aren’t your thing, find other ways to help,” said Savannah.
The cousins have also pledged their support for Allman Town Primary’s reading week activities set for early May.
“The girls will be back to participate in our programme. We are so impressed by their commitment and willingness to get involved. It’s so wonderful to see passionate young people who are making a contribution, especially in an area as important as education,” expressed Nesbeth.
With the tagline ‘Read, Donate, Repeat’, the girls launched the Instagram page @BooksForKidsJa with the aim of encouraging their peers to donate reading books to primary and infant schools across the island.
Debra-Kaye noted: “We’re balancing school and juggling a heavy workload. But Savannah and I believe that if each of us puts in just a little bit of effort, we can get things done. And so we’re inviting other students and their parents to get on board, and let’s expand this thing right across Jamaica.”