PHILIPSBURG:--- Fifteen local educational organizations were invited to Holland House’s Recovery Happy Hour last Friday to celebrate the donations they’ve already received or will receive from Foresee Foundation in the coming weeks and months. A total amount of US$146,000 was granted through international charity funding, offering to assist Foresee in its effort to work with schools, after-school programs and other educational institutes after the passing of Hurricane Irma. First needs assessments were initiated in November, which resulted in the fifteen organizations receiving such assistance as educational equipment, sport and art materials, playground facilities, uniforms and financial aid for after school and art programs for students under the age of eighteen.
New Start Foundation, Charlotte Brookson Academy and the I Can Foundation received funding for uniforms, shoes, backpacks, and belts. Large playground equipment, which is excluded from insurance coverage, will be provided to the Seventh Day Adventist, Martin Luther King, and two Hillside Christian schools. The Sister Basilia Center (White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation), Player Development Little League, Ideal Play School, and Marie Genevieve de Weever will receive in the coming months a collection of play, sport, art and educational materials, with the ArtCraftsCafe Foundation receiving a wide selection of art materials. For The Win (FTW) Gaming and the Sundial School are pending electronic and IT equipment to replace those devices that were damaged by the storm.
In addition to this, two other large organizations that focus on after school and art programs requested financial aid in the form of scholarships. The allocation of these funds was based on the observation where a number of parents could not afford these programs, which are critical to child development, as a result of losing their jobs after Hurricane Irma. This method of sponsoring allows approximately 100 children to engage with and enjoy the programs of No Kidding With Our Kids, National Institute of Art, and Behind the Beyond Community Theater Foundations. The organizations are also able to now expand their programs and offer more children the opportunity to explore and develop their talents.
Before Hurricane Irma, 4C had just distributed 90 flat-screen televisions across 27 local St. Maarten schools, all donated by one of the major resorts on our island. Less than 16 hours before Irma hit, 4C, along with the assistance of shipping agency CTC and Milton Peters College was able to secure 23 interactive digital boards with the generous donation by a school in the USA. Irma changed things drastically and creative approaches were needed by all, including 4C. Schools began cleaning up and making repairs, even to this day working to restore their establishments to 100%, where simultaneously 4C began working with them to improve their DigiProjects by strengthening and expanding networks, integrating reconstruction with a vision to build back better than before. Despite encountering many challenges, among them, a failing insurance which leaves thousands of kids, educators and parents in a difficult situation, the schools show their commitment to rebuilding better and stronger. In addition to working with the schools to return to daily operations, 4C chose to assist wherever needed, from sharing food within severely affected neighborhoods to organizing the Stories of Irma project.
There can always be ‘good coming out of the bad,’ and 4C, with this in mind, is working on some exciting future projects. In the upcoming weeks, the gaming arm of 4C, FTW, will be contacting the secondary schools to invite them to compete in their mobile game design contest, challenging the creative minds of talented youngsters beyond traditional learning. In addition to this, 4C is exploring the possibility of continuing its DigiWorkz program on design thinking, maker spaces, coding and programming, and is simultaneously making preparations for CTEC 2019. The foundation continues to expand its presence in the region with several inspiring educational initiatives currently being executed as part of the 4C pre-Irma plan.
Foresee Foundation was founded in October 2013 with the aim to develop and maintain innovative educational programs to St. Maarten. Through its extensive DigiKidz, DigiTeenz, DigiWorkz programs at several primary and secondary Schools, its partnership with the public library in setting up the DigiKidz Medialab and the Technology in Education conferences (CTEC) for St. Maarten and the Caribbean, the foundation works to bring 21st century skills into schools and the community with a focus on the 4Cs of Communication, Collaboration, Creative and Critical Thinking, believing in student-centered learning and in a more active role for students beyond the four walls of the classroom. This belief is based on the fifth C of Connecting: connecting schools, parents, students, the business world, young local professionals, and government, NGOs within and beyond St. Maarten, creating a community of learners, young and a little older. Foresee believes in strong public and private partnerships, connecting people and using their talents to help make St. Maarten a better community.
Foresee Foundations is applauding all recipients’ efforts, all of whom work tirelessly to give our kids a hopeful future. For all post-Irma activities and particularly this project, Foresee Foundation also extends its sincere thanks to its funder, the US-based donors of the Digital interactive boards, former US college peers of board members for their emergency relief items and PowerUp EDU for sending us tarpaulins for teachers. On a local level, the organization must thank businesses such as Belmond La Samanna, Trakx Design, Antek/Lenovo, UTS, Grant Thornton, King Ocean Shipping/CTC, Holland House Beach Hotel, Nicanoir Kreative and local private sponsors, enabling us to continue doing what we’re able to do to this day.