In 2008, FOR U helped organize a summer reading camp to address illiteracy and low reading levels among area children. The initiative began as a US-Jamaican partnership to empower local teachers and community members to coordinate and run the program in the future. In the early years, US-based teachers and volunteers collaborated with local teachers, working toward creating a sustainable summer literacy program.
In 2014, FOR U hired a Jamaican coordinator, Mrs. Stephanie Salmon, who has a contagious passion for literacy and empowering local teachers. She successfully developed an interactive curriculum by inviting local community members to read to the children, creating a reading corner for kids to engross themselves in literary adventures, and incorporating arts and crafts into each day’s lesson plan, while structuring the curriculum alongside the guidelines set by the Ministry of Education.
With the continued growth and development of the program there continues to be collaboration with volunteers that have been a part of the camp in previous years. Brooke Giles is an art teacher in Pennsylvania who returned in 2015 with a two-year grant from her school to teach and integrate art into the curriculum. She came armed with art supplies and creative energy and through the artistic engagement of the students, teachers and assistants; she was able to work with the program to facilitate an environment of creativity. The two-year grant partnership with Giles will continue to bring more creative energy into the growing curriculum of reading camp.
The vision of reading camp is to continue to develop autonomy within the Jamaican teachers and offer a safe and creative place for the children in the community to grow as they carry these lessons back into the classroom. With the continued partnerships with local literacy programs in St. Elizabeth, as well as international partners we hope to continue to foster a hunger for reading and imagination in the lives of the community children.
Here are links to Brooke Giles’ blog post about the experience, as well as videos and images she had taken during the Summer 2015 reading camp. Please feel free to contact us with and questions at the bottom of the page.