The Most Honourable P.J. Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica and legendary Caribbean politician, spent the day distributing bookbags to the Kindergarten and Primary school students of Somerton today. Joining the ranks of Palmyra Foundation volunteers, Mr. Patterson also brought former Speaker of the House and Member of Parliament Violet Nielson with him to hand out books to the students at Somerton All Age & Infant School, where they went to school together many years ago. Parish Counsellor for the Somerton division, Kenneth Vincent and Palmyra Foundation founder Bob Trotta also joined in the distribution of books to the Kindergarten children.
After handing out bookbags to the Kindergarten children and the Grade 1 – 3 students, Mr. Patterson made a short speech of encouragement to the Grade 4 – 6 students. Former Prime Minister Patterson talked about his time as a primary student at Somerton, and said that his education there was to become the pillars for his future success. Said the former Prime Minister; “Whatever your aspirations, you can become anything you want as long as you put your mind to it.” Mr. Patterson also congratulated the efforts of the charity’s team of volunteers, and talked about the importance of education.
304 children at Somerton All Age & Infant School and 19 Kindergarten children from Industry Basic School received bookbags from the formidable team of leaders who visited the school. Stated Principal Brydson about the visit; “We welcomed the visit of the past Prime Minister and student of Somerton. His presence and talk did wonders for the students, who were very enthused.” Principal Brydson said that the students and teachers immediately started using the books and that he expected to see good results at the end of the year.
The most famous personality to join the charity’s ranks of volunteer, the Palmyra Foundation’s volunteers were delighted to have Mr. Patterson’s presence at his childhood school, marking the 2012 distribution a very special occasion.
The Palmyra Foundation continues to collaborate with the Early Childhood Commission and the Ministry of Education of Jamaica. Nikki Windross and Jean Robinson, Development Officers of the Early Childhood Commission, were also on hand to help distribute bookbags at Somerton All Age & Infant.
Under the slogan “The future is bright, when you can read and write!”, The Palmyra Foundation is currently in its third week of distributing bookbags to 5,750 school children at 70 schools, valued at over US$170,000.
At the end of this year’s book distribution, more than 100 international volunteers have helped deliver 100,000 books to 25,000 children in 88 schools across Jamaica’s 14 parishes, at a value of approximately US$ 670,000 since the charity’s startup in 2007.