More than just a race: EU-JA 5K,10K run/walk raises funds to steer youth towards positive, productive paths

By Sports Desk June 26, 2024

“Together, we are making a difference and building a brighter future for the children of Jamaica.”

That declaration from Marianne Van Steen, Ambassador of the European Union to Jamaica, reinforces their ongoing commitment to education, violence prevention and community development through a 5K and 10K run/walk event.

The event’s second edition, which was held in March, in partnership with the Government and Running Events, under the theme, “All Together, Against Crime and Violence,” brought downtown, Kingston to life and raised funds for three literacy summer camps to be hosted at the Edward Seaga Primary, Holy Family Primary & Infant, and St Andrew Primary.

With some $4.5 million raised to fund the initiative, Ambassador Van Steen expressed heartfelt gratitude to their partners and participants who made the run/walk event a resounding success.

“This event is a testament to the power of partnership and citizen participation. The EU-JA 5K and 10K run was not just a sport event, but also a successful initiative that brought together diverse stakeholders and thousands of citizens for a common cause, to stand against violence and crime, to make Jamaica a safer place,” she said at the official handover ceremony on Tuesday.

The camps, which are being hosted jointly by the Ministry of Education and Youth and Creative Language Based Learning (CLBL) Foundation, are aimed at improving literacy levels and reducing the vulnerability to crime and violence.

A part of the EU’s efforts includes budget support and technical assistance to the All-of-Government’s Citizen Security Plan.

This initiative, Ambassador Van Steen said is seeking to implement more coordinated, data driven and effective interventions to improve the security environment for citizens and address some of the root-causes that contribute to crime and violence.

Last year, proceeds from the run significantly benefitted students at Kingston High School who participated in the literacy summer camp.

“We are very satisfied of the success of last year's literacy summer camps, which were an opportunity of hope and transformation for the children of Kingston High School. These camps can be truly life-changing for this children that for circumstances of their life have fallen behind in their learning process. Therefore, we are proud to have confirmed our commitment to support three new schools this year,” she shared.

“Education is a cornerstone of the European Union's global agenda, and it holds special significance in our partnership with Jamaica. We firmly believe that every child deserves access to quality education and the opportunity to succeed. The Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY) has been a main partner in our ongoing budget support programmes, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration in future initiatives,” the Ambassador added, noting that next year’s event will also mark the 50th anniversary of the EU’s partnership with Jamaica.

Joseph Matalon, chairman of Creative Language Based Learning (CLBL) Foundation, pointed out that the increased funding will allow the programme to substantially increase its scope and impact.

“The session will benefit 45 students, up from 19 last year, overseen by an increased contingent of consultants from Linda Mood Bell, with CLBL mobilising two coaches, three mentors (previously participating teachers from varying cohorts who have been developed into Local Instructional Mentors) and 16 trained teachers, serving 45 students,” Matalon explained.

“The Learning Session will provide supervised, immersive practice for our trained teachers and give participating students a jumpstart in reading to prepare for the new school year. We aim to deliver 80 hours of Training and Professional Development for each teacher, exposing them to all aspects of the programme as they engage students with varying learning needs,” he noted.

Matalon stressed the significance of the generosity of organisations like the European Union, which enables his foundation in its work.

He revealed that the foundation, in partnership with the Ministries of Education and National Security, also aims to expand its programme, focusing on 20 primary and 14 high schools under the Inter-Ministerial School Support Strategy, as well as 245 primary and secondary schools classified as underperforming by the National Education Inspectorate.

“We hope that the well-documented efficacy of our programmes will foster the confidence to encourage you, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of National Security, to continue to support this programme and the other efforts of these two ministries to transform Jamaica’s education systems and improve safety in our schools,” Matalon stated.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams lauded the European Union and CLBL on their efforts to make a difference on the education and future outlooks of the students.

“This is a welcome addition to the ministry’s efforts to address areas of weakness in literacy in how it is taught and learnt in Jamaica. Educators all over the world are constantly being challenged to refine existing methodology or develop new ones to meet the many needs of their student population, and this effort will help in that regard. I note the theme for this year was “All Together, Against Crime and Violence,” making a link between literacy skills and the violent behaviour of our students and adults. Our aim is to break that nexus and I want to again express our gratitude to everyone involved in making this happen,” the minister said in an emotional speech.

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