Author: Stephen Weir | Date: 05 October 2019
Last week a group of a 100 like-minded caring Caribbean Canadians gathered at the downtown Harlem Restaurant to help the students of St. Theresa’s Basic School in Jamaica. The evening fundraiser featured a panel discussion aptly called Barefoot to Boardroom and Beyond.
“The title says it all. Barefoot to Boardroom describes a lot of people on our panel and in the room, be they from Jamaica or anywhere else in the Caribbean,” said Leap Agent’s Michael Carter, the evening host. “ We have targeted a school that needs infrastructure help and that is something we can do!”
World Class Jamaica was formed in Toronto back in 2016 by people who have come from the Caribbean and done well here in Canada. Headed by Heather Ricketts, a director with the building company, Metrie, the group has been focusing on fixing and upgrading Jamaican schools. Roofs. Toilets. Computers. Running Water. The condition of schools and the technology inside the buildings impacts how well students can learn.
“We are not trying to the change a school’s curriculum, we want to change the environment that they learn in,” says Heather Ricketts. “We are, as our vision statement says, all about inspiring and educating!”
In the case of the St. Theresa’s Basic School, it is a small building in the St Mary Parish that currently has 20 children – 3 to 5 years of age, enrolled. It is without running water, has a leaky roof, no electricity and only a single door in and out.
World Class Jamaica, working with educational leaders in St Mary, have identified a nearby building that can be repurposed to house the school. There are some physical challenges in terms of the condition of this newer building that must be addressed before any move can be made.
Harlem Restaurant turned it’s own building over to World Class Jamaica for the evening. In addition to serving a meal prepared by one of their committee three business leaders - Ray Williams Managing Director and Vice Chair, National Bank of Canada, Stanley Julien- Managing Director, BMO Financial Group and Paulette Senior- President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, held a panel discussions on the theme of the event Barefoot to Boardroom and Beyond.
The evening was a success. Over $16,000 was raised for the school. In additional to selling tickets to the evening, World Class Jamaica did get assistance from its corporate sponsors Sleep Country and Metrie.
“Although there have been significant advances in education in Jamaica there is still work to be done.” Said the World Class Jamaica president and executive director. “ Next for us? A $20 challenge. Follow us on Instagram!”