There is no greater feeling than giving back!
Two years ago, along with Andrew Post, we started a program in Jamaica to improve literacy of high school kids. I felt really strongly about doing something because I always had so much pride in the Jamaican school system. When I heard that illiteracy was rapidly increasing and kids were falling behind in school, I was shocked and burdened to do something.
I remember when I was in school in Jamaica. I went to Vaz Preparatory School, what I think was one of the best prep schools in Kingston. The teachers were excellent and did whatever it took to get all of us to learn. We had excellent reading, math, and spelling skills and when I moved to the States I was very well prepared. I was younger than most of the kids in the 8th grade and the principal wanted my sister and I to repeat the grades we just completed because we were too young. My parents wouldn’t allow it and asked that they test our learning abilities before holding us back. We passed the tests with ease, and for the first couple months my sister and I were the outstanding students of the month, every month!
I’ve always said that I felt I had the best of both worlds, athletically and academically, being in Jamaica for the first half of my life and now being a citizen of the US. I appreciate every opportunity I’ve had growing up and I know if it weren’t for the amazing foundation I received, mainly from my parents, but also from the structure, discipline, and education I received while in Jamaica, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
When I visited the school and looked at the young girls and boys I remember my days there so vividly. I remember not having a care in the world. I feel children should have the opportunity to go to school, get a great education, and be prepared to take advantage of whatever opportunity comes their way.
Right now the Sanya Richards Fast Track Program hopes to improve kids reading skills as well as involve them in physical activities. We started at one school and now the program in installed in five high schools in Kingston. I am very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far and hope to do so much more for these kids and others in the future.
If you’d like to help, write firstname.lastname@example.org
Or read more at http://jamaica.fun4kidz.org
Until next time….