Riverton

Project Area: Basic School

Students Crossing Borders has had a long-standing relationship with the community, particularly with Riverton Meadows Early Childhood Development Center – a basic school serving children aged 2 to 6 years. The founder of our organization, Fintan Kilbride spent many years cultivating a relationship of trust and over the last 7 years that relationship has branched out into many other areas of the community.

Junior Rowe, Principal of the basic school has become an integral member of the Students Crossing Borders team, taking on the responsibility for managing funds that support the Reading Room and Homework Center, The Lynn Caruso Parent Child Drop In Centre, The Inter-Community Youth and Adult Council, The Riverton Youth Centre, grant management and the management of the school sponsorship program which currently supports approximately 65 children and young adults.

Classroom Support

While in Jamaica we assist in the classroom wherever we are needed during the day. We help with organizing, creating resources, planning activities and taking small group out of the classroom for focused activities. We also replenish their classroom supplies such as paper, pencils, etc. Participants are asked to get to know the teacher and ask how they can be of assistance rather than heading straight for the children. They are not allowed to carry children around, give them candy, take pictures or other distracting behaviour during class time.

After-school Program (Winter Trip)

Every winter we run an after school program at the basic school. This program serves all the children and youth in the community not just the 2 – 6 year olds who attend the school. The program runs for the full two weeks of the trip and provides a variety of activities including, arts & crafts, literacy, music and movement, sports, games and circle time. Each trip a returning participant who is also an ECE is selected to coordinate the after-school program. They are responsible for preparing activities, gathering materials and managing the implementation. They only required to pay half of the cost of the trip.

Summer School (Summer Trip)

Every July we assist the teachers run the summer school program. The summer school program is much like the after-school program only it runs all-day rather than after school. SCB funds the program including, salaries for teachers, cooks, and cleaners, lunch, and all materials for the program.

Riverton Reading Room & Homework Center

In March 2011, we created a reading room/library for the Riverton community. Barrels of books, focusing on preschool and youth, were sent to Jamaica and were sorted and organized to create the first ever library in the Riverton community. The centre is a vibrant space for children and youth to come after school to take part in story time, literacy activities, tutoring, and a homework club. The center also has a computer lab equipped with 6 new computers, internet access and a printer. A librarian and an assistant were hired to run the program, which operates 4 days a week. It’s been wildly popular with the community; children are waiting in line each day for the centre to open. Our goal is to expand the operating hours and to run additional literacy programs for adults, and to create a library program for the children in the basic school.

SCB is currently responsible for the maintenance of the center including supplying books, computers, printer, paper, ink, electricity, salaries of staff, and internet service.

Parent-Child Drop-in Centre

For some time, we have been collaborating with Junior Rowe to establish a parent/child drop-in program at the school facility. We were fortunate to have been able to gather enough furniture, equipment, toys, and program supplies through the Container Project to allow this to happen. While playing with their children at the centre, parents will learn the importance of play-based learning and how to support their children’s efforts at literacy and numeracy skill building. Interactive workshops will be offered for parents in many different areas including child development, problem solving with children, and helping children to read. SCB is currently responsible for maintaining the parent-child drop in center including funding for snacks, paying the salary of the center supervisor and on-going maintenance of the supplies, furnishings and infrastructure.

Elderly Feeding Program and Field Trips

Whenever possible, we designate some of our funds raised through various events, to the seniors to be used in whatever way is needed. We also take a group of seniors from the Riverton community on a field trip to the mineral springs and out for lunch at the botanical gardens whenever we are able. This is a very popular and well-attended event, one that community members rarely get to enjoy. This event requires funding for buses, food, and to pay the women who cook and distribute food at the picnic.

Health Clinic

Before travelling, trip participants gather much needed resources for the healthcare clinic in Riverton. Through our efforts, we are able to restock the shelves with basic first aid supplies, medications, vitamins, and other commonly used treatments. Participants on the trip often work in the clinic, helping Nurse Kim with cleaning, paperwork; home visits, seniors’ letter writing programs, and seniors’ feeding programs. In February of 2012 we provided Sexual health workshops facilitated by Kim Martyn, a Toronto Public Health Social Worker.

Sponsorship

Educational Sponsorship Program

One of the primary needs of the Riverton community is to get all children in school, and attending regularly, however, in Jamaica everyone pays fees for their children to attend. They need money for books, uniforms, bus fare, extra classes as mandated by the schools, and in most cases, tuition. Due to the lack of financial resources of their parents, the education of many of Jamaica’s children is compromised. Some children are unable to attend on any one day because there is no money for bus fare (schools are rarely within walking distance), or for a lunch. As a result of their sporadic attendance, there can be big gaps in the children’s understanding, knowledge and skills, putting them at risk of failure, or of dropping out of school altogether. In response to this dilemma, past SCB trip participants and their families and friends have committed to helping out families in the community by committing to donate a portion of school fees. At this point we are helping over 65 children in the community, all of who are at different levels of education. There are, however, many more children who can use help.

To sponsor a child please e-mail: sponsorship@studentscrossingborders.ca

Professional Development

Professional Development Workshops

Each winter, since 2005 our group has been invited to take part in professional development sessions for all the teachers in basic schools (early childhood settings) in Zone 8. There are 45-50 schools in the zone, with close to 200 teachers. Each year we have provided workshops and training sessions, based on the requests of our Jamaican partners. Participants have enthusiastically received the workshops and we have since provided sessions for another school zone. The Professional Development trips have been such a success we have created a specific trip for just this purpose.

The trip is set up as a reciprocal model – one year Canadian ECE professionals go to Jamaica to run and take part in Professional Development workshops and the next the Jamaican ECE Professionals come to Canada.

We have done sessions on emergent literacy and numeracy, universal precautions, creativity and the preschool child, programming planning, circle time, occupational and physiotherapy, as well as training on working with children with exceptionalities.

To find out more, or to get involved, please contact:
Terry Kelly, Professional Development Trip Leader – jet007@sympatico.ca
Lisa Shortall – Professional Development Trip Leader – lashortall@yahoo.ca