Children from inner city Castries will continue to benefit from the Sandals Foundation After-School Care and Extended Support (ACES) Program in partnership with the Saint Lucia Crisis Centre. The EC$41,376 annual initiative, which began in 2012, caters to 49 registered children. Managing Director or the Saint Lucia Crisis Centre, Norma Laborde, says the programme continues to be of considerable importance to the many children and households it reaches.
For 2016, Laborde said the ACES initiative will look to build on its mandate to provide an overall holistic development arena for children. “We offer a safe environment, a balanced meal each day and social support for the children and their parents. The afternoon schedule also includes spiritual guidance, educational assistance and research facilitation,” Laborde said. She added that the children who benefit from the programme are now exposed to basic French classes – an advantage brought forward and facilitated by a volunteer.
Social skills are also on the front burner of ACES with lessons on proper hygiene, good manners and the correct use of cutlery. “We also have a volunteer counsellor who assists our in-house counsellor. Dancing has been a part of the programme for some time with an exercise component, and we hope to resume the swimming and tennis lessons as soon as possible,” the Director said. “The Crisis Centre will continue to work assiduously with the Sandals Foundation, to give those children a better chance in life.”
The Sandals Foundation has partnered with the Saint Lucia Crisis Centre on several groundbreaking programmes that target at-risk youth and challenged mothers from in and around the Castries community. Director of Programs for the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke, has reaffirmed the Foundation’s commitment to initiatives like these which target youth and young mothers.
“It is important to us that programmes like this are sustained. We can never really overstate the importance it has to a community, a family or a child. The Crisis Centre has been doing an exceptional job in keeping the initiative relevant and we are proud to call them our partners for yet another year,” Clarke said. Since 2013, the Sandals Foundation has invested upwards of EC$182,000 into meaningful projects at the Saint Lucia Crisis Centre with an additional EC$21,000 planned for later in 2016.