She has been financially supporting two Jamaican basic schools in Trelawny — Wait-A-Bit since 1993 and Hope for the past eight years.
Now former Ontario government minister Mary Anne Chambers heads the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE) which has adopted nearly 235 basic schools from St. Mary’s in the north to Clarendon in the south and Portland in the east to Hanover in the west. Each school has an average of 40 students.
Chambers was unanimously elected at the annual general meeting recently, replacing Lorna King who has been the president for the past eight years.
The organization’s founder Dr. Mavis Burke asked Chambers to accept the nomination after King’s tenure ended under the constitution which stipulates a president can serve no longer than two successive four-year terms.
“I accepted the nomination because I can’t think of a time when the investment in education and the little kids is more important in Jamaica,” said the former Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Children and Youth Services. “It’s imperative that we ensure they have a good education that will help equip them to have choices so they can contribute to their communities and their country.”
The rest of the new executive comprises Beverley Thompson (executive vice-president), Vandra Massemann, Donette Chin-Loy, Ingrid Lawrence, Mardi South and Christine Williams (vice-presidents), Charmaine Denton (secretary) and Totlyn Douglas (treasurer).
The directors are Dr. Fred Kennedy, Diana Burke, Dr. Vincent Conville and Dr. Rosemary Moodie.
Since its establishment 23 years ago, PACE has developed two fully equipped mobile computer buses to ensure that Jamaican children can compete in the evolving technological arena, supported teacher training, book and nutritional programs and a toy drive and provided annual early childhood education scholarships in Canada and Jamaica.
It’s estimated that the organization enriches and empowers the lives of almost 10,000 young children annually.
For just a dollar a day, individuals or groups can participate in the organization’s Adopt-A-School core program.
Ontario’s first independent child and youth advocate, Irwin Elman, who has adopted a six-year-old boy whose biological father is Jamaican, plans to adopt a school to introduce the child to the Caribbean country.
Elman was the keynote speaker at the PACE annual general meeting.
“As I was reading about your program while preparing to give this talk, it dawned on me that I along with my family needed to adopt a school because in this way, I can introduce my son to Jamaica,” he said. “If they invite us, I can go and visit that school and in that way give my son the opportunity to get to know something about the country.”
The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth was established in October 2007 with the passage of Bill 165, and Elman was appointed in July 2008.