May 22, 2015
Miss SVG pageant contestant, Skinny Fabulous visit HOPE foundation’s ASP

Last Saturday, May 16, the HOPE foundation’s After School Programme (ASP) had two special guests.

Miss SVG pageant contestant, the valley girl Chantal Dells – Miss Agricultural Input Warehouse and local soca maestro and recording artiste, Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle both took time from their busy carnival preparations to support HOPE and the ASP that focuses on improving reading, writing and other literacy skills of primary school children in the Buccament valley.{{more}} First in front of the class at the Buccament Government School in DuBois was the local beauty, who during a brief detour from her busy pageant itinerary, introduced herself to the students, informing them that she was also an alumna of the school and went on to talk about the importance of getting an education. Among other things, she encouraged the participants to study hard and before she departed, presented them with colourful leis.

Doyle, also affectionately known as ‘Uncle Skinny’, led a lively performing arts segment of the tutoring programme. Equally at home in front of a classroom as he is on stage, the acclaimed artiste conducted a class on ‘beats’/music creation and the song writing process, while incorporating lessons on the importance of vocabulary and learning new words by using fun, interactive activities, including rhyming and having the students find words to finish lyrics he created impromptu. Known for his role in many charitable and other ventures for children, he was true to form and gave all the students present tickets to his eponymous Uncle Skinny’s Kids Carnival.

Currently in its second year, the ASP saw 40 students register and evaluated for reading proficiency at the beginning of the year. Each Saturday, students are placed into small groups based on reading level and work with members of HOPE, as well as community volunteers who tutor and provide individualized assistance. Though attendance fluctuates, measurable progress and improvement in literacy have been noted in the young participants. In addition to the support from tutors, volunteers and other members of the community, the Ministry of Education provided essential assistance by allowing use of the school and its facilities. The principal (ag), Yolande Jackson, has also been very helpful by offering use of equipment and other classroom resources. The business community has also contributed. Coreas Hazells Inc and Neka’s Bakery have donated items to prepare refreshments for the children, and reading materials were donated by Jujube Bookstore.

The programme is just one of several endeavours undertaken by Helping Others Pursue Excellence (HOPE) foundation since its inception five years ago. Over 150 students in the area have received donations of backpacks and school supplies, including those affected by the December 2013 trough system. The foundation also facilitated the donation of 200 pairs of track spikes to young athletes, including students at the Buccament Government and Thomas Saunders Secondary Schools. In addition to other activities, including sporting events, the foundation is known for its awards ceremony and reception where the youth of the Buccament valley are recognized for their achievements. These activities are in keeping with the mission of the non-profit organization which was incorporated in May 2010 to provide support to young residents of the area in their pursuit of excellence in academic, athletic, vocational and other endeavours.

It is headed by tireless two-term president Diana Browne, who leads a very capable executive of Syran Clarke (vice-president), Janelle Hackshaw (treasurer) and Nashakie Samuel (secretary). The foundation can be contacted via email at [email protected]