Though prepared to engage the students in an exciting reading session, the members of the N.C.B. Foundation were amazed when grade seven student, Aleria Bent from the Salvation Army School for the Blind, offered to read to them in braille.
Known as the sole education provider for blind and visually impaired children in Jamaica, the School for the Blind is in dire need of braille machines to teach its students how to read. With a $100,000 cheque in hand, the Manager for the Constant Spring Financial Center, Maxine McKenzie, surprised the school’s grade two students with an animated rendition of “The Happiness Dress” written by Jamaican author Diane Browne.
“We are extremely delighted that the N.C.B. Foundation thought of us for their Read Across Jamaica Day initiative. This donation will go a long way in acquiring braille machines which are in short supply at the school,” said vice-principal Sherine Gordon-Whyte.
From top left: grade 7 student Aleria Bent, NCB’s Constant Spring Financial Center Manager, Maxine McKenzie, Vice Principal Sherine Gordon-Whyte and Sponsorship director Deniese Pierre Fils, celebrate the donation of $100,000 towards the purchasing of braille machines with their grade two students.
From the day of enrollment, the students are taught to see with the eyes of the heart so that they can absorb hope and achievement as opposed to doubt and despair. Positive self-esteem is a vital lesson for the students which was evident during their read-along session with McKenzie.
“At NCB we pride ourselves on being an institution of inclusion. Over 57 per cent of our ATMs are equipped with braille kits and the team members within our branches are specially trained to assist those who are visually impaired and disabled. The ability to read is a right owed to all Jamaicans and we are happy to give a helping hand to those who need it the most,” said McKenzie.
With a flurry of laughter and eagerness to participate, the students engaged the NCB manager as she led them on a journey to happiness with the characters from “The Happiness Dress” book. “These students were able to teach me that the only thing worse than being blind is to have sight but no vision. It was a pleasure to be here with them and help create a more inclusive Jamaica,” said McKenzie.
The N.C.B Foundation donated over 700 copies of children’s books to their 42 adopted schools across the island on Read Across Jamaica Day.