Every year since 2014 Sandals Foundation has partnered with Hands Across the Sea in Grenada to rejuvenate school libraries across the island impacting students at a total of 17 schools so far.
Regionally their partnership has reached a total of 34 schools in Grenada, Antigua, St Lucia and Dominica – with 19,476 new amazing books and other literacy tools being added. Hands Across the Sea’s commitment to improving literacy levels takes a unique format: their improvement plan begins with assessments of literacy needs, followed by careful selection of types and categories of books, setting up lending programmes, and training students and teachers to sustain the libraries.
For the 2018-2019 school year, the St George’s Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Primary School has received new books and literacy tools to fuel their newly renovated library, much to the excitement of the 347 students including student librarians who will help to manage their now inviting library space. “With the help of our administration, parents, students and generous donors we were able to renovate our school library. The partnership from Hands and the Sandals Foundation came just in time to stock our library with interesting, age appropriate publications to keep the children reading,” shared Jacqueline Noel, Principal of the St George’s SDA Primary School.
Primary schools are not the only focus. Hands Literacy Links (literacy experts) had recognised they needed to come up a “reading rescue” programme for secondary school students who were struggling with reading, and thus came the Remedial Reading Toolkits. The Hands Remedial Reading Toolkits equip remedial reading teachers with the Decode system, a phonics-based approach created specifically for teenagers. Additionally there are manipulatives and games to make the process easier, memorable and fun.
The Sandals Foundation and Hands Across the Sea have provided these new kits to the Grenada Christian Academy, JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary School, St David’s Catholic Secondary School and St Mark’s Secondary School.
“Hands Across the Sea’s six-year partnership with the Sandals Foundation to improve child literacy in the Eastern Caribbean has given over 9,870 children in Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica, and Antigua access to new amazing books at a school lending library,” said Harriet and Tom Linskey, the Co-Founders of the US-based NGO. “And the Sandals Foundation’s generous sponsorship of 12 Hands Remedial Reading Toolkits across the region is helping bring the reading skills of struggling secondary school students up to grade level.”
According to Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, they hope to continue this important partnership. “Our partnership with Hands Across the Sea has been an impactful one, with their team on the ground and their continuous follow up with the schools, we know this investment will continue to benefit children for years to come. We are also pleased because they are always looking for continued ways to improve literacy at all levels. Unfortunately, there are children who fall through the cracks at early ages and then never get a chance to catch up. We feel the remedial tool kits are a great answer for addressing literacy intervention at the high school level. We believe literacy gives students the ability to flourish in all areas of their academic life and as such will continue to support great programmes such as this one.”