Anneliese Perkins, an eight-year-old student from Jessie Ripoll Primary School, discovered a newfound awe for Marcus Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero, and the power of storytelling after an engaging reading session with renowned storyteller and author, Dr Amina Blackwood Meeks and Netollia Fairweather-Sims, librarian at Liberty Hall.
“I learnt about Marcus Garvey’s walking stick, his famous quotes, and the newspapers he published. I also enjoyed the storytelling,” she said of the day’s event.
Anneliese was among 100 students from four Corporate Area schools who were invited to embark on an immersive journey into Jamaican culture and heritage through captivating storytelling and a tour of Liberty Hall. These purposeful activities were meticulously organized by the JN Foundation in observance of Read Across Jamaica Day and aimed to inspire and captivate the young minds of the students, fostering a deeper appreciation for reading, and their Jamaican heritage.
Nigel Francis from the Edward Seaga Primary School [formerly Denham Town Primary School] who was visiting Liberty Hall for the first time also expressed his delight with the day’s event. “I enjoyed the tour and learnt about Marcus Garvey,” he said.
Paulette Ferguson, Grade Two teacher at Edward Seaga Primary School said the activities planned for the day enlightened the students, she expressed the view that it was an educational opportunity for them as they were visiting Liberty Hall for the first time.
“It was really an eye opener for them, and it allowed me as a teacher to understand [and on reflection] to go back to the classroom and engage them further about Marcus Garvey,” she said.
Ferguson shared that the storytelling experience positively impacted the students, as it made them appreciate reading more.
“Hearing the voices and the intonations will help the students to recognise that reading can be fun, and this will make them realise they don’t have to be forced to take up a book because it is fun,” she said.
Dr Blackwood Meeks, who read a copy of her book, “That’s a Good Idea” said storytelling is a powerful technique that can encourage students to appreciate and even love reading. “Reading is a stimulus, and the children were paying attention and they were so keen on listening to the stories and because they were following the storylines, they were able to answer questions from the books. So, we know that reading and storytelling form gateways to learning and literacy,” she explained noting that it encourages, listening, comprehension, and summarising by stimulating them to retell the story.
She said there needs to be more storytelling in schools about Jamaican culture, icons and national heroes, such as Marcus Garvey.
Claudine Allen, general manager, JN Foundation interacts with students from Windward Road Primary School.
Claudine Allen, general manager, JN Foundation said the initiative was conceptualised to promote literacy and the benefits of reading to children from an early age. “As a proponent for education, JN Foundation hosted the activity to promote the importance of reading and literacy,” she said.
“Our goal with this initiative on Read Across Jamaica Day was to instil in the young minds of the children a sense of limitless possibility and the potential for greatness. That’s why we chose Liberty Hall, the place that celebrates the legacy of Jamaica’s first national hero, the Right Excellent Marcus Garvey, who remains an inspiring figure and a symbol of national pride,” she informed.
Allen noted that Marcus Garvey has left behind a rich legacy, which should be taught to all Jamaican children. “His philosophy on black consciousness, the need for African unity; self-reliance; and for black people to be organised are lessons worthy of inculcating in our children,” she said.
The event was executed in collaboration with JN Group member companies: JN Fund Managers, JN General Insurance, JN Life Insurance, JN Money Services, Jamaica Automobile Association, MCS Group, MC Systems which provided gifts for the students and teachers. Other sponsors included the National Baking Company, which provided meals and refreshments, and LMH Publishing, which donated books.