3,216 four and five year old school children start the school year with books from The Palmyra Foundation.

MONTEGO BAY, 19 SEPTEMBER, 2011: The Palmyra Foundation announced today the near completion of its 2011 book distribution to 4 and 5 year old infant school children in the parishes of St. James, Westmoreland, Trelawny, Hanover and Portland. Scheduled to receive books this Wednesday September 21 at 10:00 am, the infant school children at Kingston’s St. Peter Claver School remain the final recipients of book bags from the 2011 book distribution, taking the total tally of young recipients to 3,216 infant school children.

Under the banner “The future is bright, when you can read and write.”, The Palmyra Foundation provided each child with a book bag containing a pack of crayons, a pencil, a colorful 300 page BrainQuest Workbook and 1 or 2 Scholastic reading books at a value of approximately US$30 per pack.

The books have been extremely well received by both teachers and children. Said Opal Jarrett, Principal at Providence Infant School, Montego Bay, St.James; “Both the teachers and the children really like the books. Everything is integrated in the Workbook including numbers, phonics, writing and the letters of the alphabet and the activities and the colours reflect a West Indian theme. The children have improved. They can work guided by their teachers or take up their Workbook and work on their own. A few of our children did not have any books at all.”

Said Ms. Merlene Sinclair, Principal of Port Antonio Infant School, during the distribution team’s visit to Portland; “The children were very excited about The Palmyra Foundation visit, you could see it in their faces and tell by their reactions. The books are very relevant for their age groups and our teachers can also use them when planning their lessons. The parents were very appreciative and pleased.” Her sentiments were mirrored by Ms. Koren Alexander, Acting Principal of Montego Bay Infant School; “The Workbooks are of great help to the children. They love the activities and the teachers like using them in the classroom. Also, it is important that all the children have the books from the beginning of the school year.”

During the two week book distribution, local and international sponsors and volunteers visited 32 infant schools and departments in towns, mountains and rural areas to personally hand deliver books and materials to the 3,216 children.

“We heard about Palmyra Foundation distributing books to infant schools from the Palmyra website. After reviewing the video from last year’s book distribution, we were convinced that we needed to do something to help The Palmyra Foundation’s book drive. We felt that our contribution would go a long way to helping children in this country and we have decided to commit to being Gold Sponsors with The Palmyra Foundation as long as it continues to distribute books to children in need in Jamaica.”

Palmyra Foundation Gold Sponsors Dale Jones and his wife Kimberlyn Jones from Paul Mitchell the School, Nashville, USA.

The Kingston born Gold Sponsor, who has lived in the US for 30 years, explained that the opportunity to personally hand out books to the children made their contribution an even more meaningful experience. Said Jones; “We decided to not merely be sponsors, but to also help with the distribution of books. It is one thing to send money, but it is yet another to contribute your time to make a difference in children’s lives. The joy on the faces of the children was priceless to see in person. They were very thankful and overjoyed with our presence at each school.”

Said Palmyra Foundation Silver Sponsor Stacey Kramer from Colorado, US, who joined the book distribution this year for the first time; “I wanted to experience first-hand how The Palmyra Foundation benefits the children of Jamaica. It was inspiring to tour the schools and meet the teachers, and of course to witness the joy of each child as he or she received their book bag with a Workbook, coloring book, reading books, a pencil and crayons. I felt that we were truly effecting these children’s education and in turn increasing their prospects for a better future.”

The distribution was supported by officers from the Early Childhood Commission, who were present at the many schools to assist with the books dispersal. Said Ms. Evelyn Walden-West, Regional Early Childhood Development Officer Supervisor for the Early Childhood Commission in Region 4; “This is the Foundation’s fourth (4th) year providing learning materials to Early Childhood Institutions across the Western Region. The effects of its contribution have proven worthwhile as the students who received materials last year saw a boost in their performance. US$96,000 in materials has been distributed across 32 schools and institutions by the Foundation this year.”

The Early Childhood Commission noted their appreciation to The Palmyra Foundation for its contribution of much needed reading materials for all ages of the early childhood sector. Stated Walden-West; “The Early Childhood Commission in Region 4 pledges to support this project through consistent monitoring of the use of these materials within their Institutions.”

Through the new Palmyra Foundation Assessment, tangible evidence of tremendous improvement among children who have received books from The Palmyra Foundation has quickly been noticed. At Bickersteth Infant & Primary School, St. James, the 4-year old Pre-K children who received books from the non-profit charity measured a class average of 95% at the end of last school year, in comparison to a class average of 52% on the same Assessment the previous year, among children who did not receive books. This shows a measured improvement of 43% in only one school year.

Said Clayton E. Smith, Principal, Upper Rock Spring All Age and Infant School, Hanover; “My daughters benefited from the Palmyra Foundation’s programme last year. My 5-year old daughter did so well using the books that she was moved to Grade One by Term Two. She is now in Grade Two and doing very well. My 3-year old daughter mastered the Pre-K Workbook for 4-year olds and is very excited about her Kindergarten Workbook for 5-year olds. She too is doing very well. Once again thank you very much for touching the lives of so many of our children.”

Winston Dear, Chairman of Somerton All Age School in St. James, who was present at the distribution of books at the rural school who has seen many famous Jamaicans including reggae star Jimmy Cliff and former Prime Minister The Honourable P.J. Patterson, lauded the efforts of the charity; “The Palmyra Foundation is doing a tremendous service to Jamaica by providing work books to our Kindergarten children. We at Somerton All Age School would like to recognize the foundation for its foresight and commitment to our young people. I do not need to tell you that this may be the most important time in a child’s life, a time when the brain is super active, therefore it is important that we do our best to deliver a proper learning experience.”

At the end of this year’s book distribution, more than 100 international volunteers will have helped deliver 79,000 books to 18,000 children in 80 schools across Jamaica’s 14 parishes, at a value of approximately US$ 500,000.

The Palmyra Foundation is sponsored by Dale Jones and Kimberlyn Jones from Paul Mitchell the School (US), Greylock Capital Management (US), Crestone Capital Advisors (US), Landmark Global Associates (US), United Way/ FedEx (US), Billy Craig Insurance Brokers, Rattray Patterson Rattray Solicitors, J. Wray & Nephew, Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, 1876 Wines, Margaritaville, Scotchie’s, Pier 1, Rainforest Seafoods, John Swaby Entertainment, Jamaica Tours Limited, Guardsman Group, Palace Amusements, RJR, Jablum Coffee, Happy Ice, WISYNCO (Wata/ Ocean Spray/ Coca Cola), Victoria Mutual Building Society, Keith Thorpe, Econocaribe, Caribbean Connection, Hospiten, Digicel, Guardian Life, Deloitte & Touche, Caribbean Producers Jamaica, Saba Art Gallery & Frames, Supreme Ventures, Frame by Frame, Mobay Chocolate, Turnkey Productions, Shoppes at Rose Hall, Tai Flora Services, Sonmay PR and The Gleaner Company in addition to a number of other private individuals, artists and companies and artists including Third World Band, Ruben Studdard, Tarrus Riley, Tessane Chin, Dwight Richards and band, Dean Fraser and Myrna Hague-Bradshaw.

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