Today began with an early rise at 6:30 am where we set out to prepare for an inspiring and adventurous day of play with the kids for sports day at the Boys' Town Infant and Primary School, located in Trench Town.
Through this opportunity, our placement compromises of using our acquired academic skills in which we have all obtained through our various programs at Humber. We went into the school aiming to apply theories and knowledge we have acquired in community development, child/youth engagement and criminal justice.
Upon arrival, we were graciously welcomed and introduced by Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Black from the Infant Department. We were taught the age range of the students which was 3-6 in the infant category and 6-12 in primary. They explained that the school went up to grade 9 but took it out a few years ago, now the school goes up to grade 6.
We were then brought over to the Boys' Town Vocational Training Centre on the same campus where Mrs. Yyonne Hewiit, the Manager, was introduced to us and explained how the Centre works . She explained that the Boys' Town Vocation Training Centre is one of the many training institutions owned and operated by the Human Employment and Resource Training Trust, National Training Agency (HEART Trust/NTA), which is a government subsidiary that provides training and qualification for Jamaicans 17 years old and older. She explained that the centre provides certifications within the culinary field. They prepare students for a variety of opportunities including working on cruise ships, the restaurant industry, hotels and so much more.
We then headed to the Primary section and took a quick tour of some other areas around the school. We were welcomed again by many students as they proceeded to begin their morning routines, which included devotional prayer and song. Today was special as it was the school's sports day. The principal, Ms Banks, began getting the children excited, encouraging them to participate in chants and cheer for their teams.
All the children from the infant and primary department were placed in 4 teams:
The teams participated in a variety of activities such as track and field, bag races, and cheerleading.
We divided ourselves into groups of 4 and each group joined a team. Our tasks included encouraging and motivating our teams, as well as overseeing the children who were not competing while the teachers focused on those who were on the field. We played games with the chidlren and helped to keep everything organized while the activities were happening.
Despite the hot weather, the contagious excitement kept us going throughout the day. Once the races were completed, we went to a separate room and had a delicious lunch of fish, chicken, pork, and a few other sides. Once that was completed, we had a while to continue playing with the kids and proceeded back down to the field to continue the day.
We had the pleasant surprise of being honorary judges in the cheerleading competition and making the deciding vote that the blue team would win!
After the cheerleading was finished, we went back onto the bus to head home after a fun filled day.
As usual, we debriefed by reflecting on our day's experience. Despite the perception of Trench town being considered to be a low income town, the children remained in high spirits and remained happy and excited throughout the activities.
While attending the school we all feel as though it was a culture shock. Many of us spoke about how the schooling system was very different from the ones we know in Canada. We also discussed how continued development efforts such as appropriate resource allocation (water) and other basic necessities can beneficial towards the student's experience, learning and success. We also spoke about how this experience can enhance our practice in field when working with children from diverse backgrounds.
One of the things that stood out to many persons in the group, there were many posters displayed around the school promoting positive suggestions of behaviours to engage in when you are mad or upset, for example, tell a teacher that you are being bullied instead of hitting someone. It also provides suggestions on how to show politeness which was demonstrated by many students within the school. Our group discuss the meaning and relevance of these.
All in all this was a very inspiring and eye opening day for all of us. We are looking forward to going back to the school and continuing the activities with the students.