UNICEF and MECYS celebrate After School Programs Recovery

On October 19, UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs hosted a special ceremony to symbolically hand over a one-time donation of materials as part of the recovery of fourteen after-school programs on the island.

During the ceremony the after-school programs were thanked for their continued work with the youth, with emphasis put on their role in supporting the community after hurricane Irma. To assist the after-school programs in their efforts, a variety of materials were donated to each programs as part of UNICEF’s After-School Program Mapping and Support activity.

“I am honored to be here to give thanks to the after-school programs for their continued efforts in educating, encouraging and inspiring our youth,” said Minister Wycliffe Smith, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs who attended the ceremony and praised the after-school programs during his speech.

Chris Johnson, head of The Dutch Representation Office in Sint Maarten mentioned his own kids and the various levels of trauma they experienced after hurricane Irma: “After-school programs play an important part in helping our kids bounce back from a disaster such as Irma. On behalf of the Dutch government I say thank you.”

The material donations included art supplies, sports equipment, reading books, language books, writing materials, toys, musical instruments, educational games, playground equipment and more.

“UNICEF went above and beyond with providing us the materials we needed. We were allowed to fill out a ‘wish-list’ of items and received just that. The donated materials will be put to good use.” Jessica Richardson-Lake of the Belvedere Community Foundation said on behalf of the recipient after-school programs.

The After-School Program Mapping and Support project is one of the early recovery projects financed from the Dutch Recovery Fund for St Maarten, under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. Amazon generously donated a large portion of the donated materials.

“We are very grateful to have received support from MECYS, the Dutch Recovery Fund and Amazon, for this project activity. After-school programs can boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a safe, structured environment for the children of working parents. They are very important to our community, and UNICEF is happy that we could support them in this way,” stated Suzette Moses-Burton, UNICEF’s Community Mobiliser.