April 2, 2020:

Eight hundred learning kits for young children are being delivered between April 1-2 to families in the quarantined Corn Piece community in Clarendon and to those who have just emerged from quarantine in Bull Bay.

The learning kits were created through a partnership between the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), the University of the West Indies (UWI) Department of Child and Adolescent Health, Food for the Poor and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Designed for children ages zero to six, each learning kit contains puzzles, books, crayons, blocks, colouring books and an activity booklet that helps children to understand and protect themselves from COVID-19. The kit also has information for parents/caregivers on how to use the kits with their children and to help them stay calm.

“The ECC is pleased to be a part of this initiative that will ensure children in communities affected by quarantine are able to benefit from quality learning materials as we take a united stand in the fight Covid-19 during this difficult time,” said Karlene DeGrasse-Deslandes, Executive Director of the ECC.

Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, who heads the UWI Department of Child Health indicated that “When parents are under extreme anxiety, such as those in quarantined communities are, children get anxious too. These kits will help to relieve the anxieties of children directly through active play. They also encourage parents to play with and stimulate their children, thereby also relieving their own anxieties.”

“It’s very important for young children to engage in learning and recreational activities during this challenging time, and these kits aim to help with that,” said Rebecca Tortello, Education Specialist at UNICEF Jamaica. “Play therapy is a proven strategy to help provide relief and support mental health.”