Saturday 30 May, 2020

Young philanthropist staging virtual run to help needy students

Imani-Leigh Hall

Imani-Leigh Hall

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the shutdown of most normal activities, including those of charity organisations which raise funds for worthy causes by selling products and staging distance run/walks.

However, one young philanthropist is determined to assist needy children, despite the worldwide lockdown, by staging a 3K Virtual Run.

“A virtual run is a self-motivated race that can be run or walked at any time,” explains 10-year-old Imani-Leigh Hall, who has organised the event with the assistance of her mother Dr Thea-Nicole Davis and grandmother Joan Young Davis.

Imani-Leigh is directing interested persons to her Instagram page to register for the ILAH’s Lemon-Aid Quarantine Fun Run, which is scheduled from Friday, May 15 to Sunday, May 31.

Entry fee for the event, which is endorsed by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), is J$1,500 or US$12 per person. Sponsors include Digicel Jamaica, Digicel Foundation, Serge Island, Seprod Foundation and Jamaica Moves.

Imani-Leigh hopes to raise J$500,000 from the event which will be used to purchase at least 200 tablets for children and teachers in infant schools to use for online teaching and learning, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Imani-Leigh is no stranger to fundraising, having started ILAH’s Lemon-Aid Stand in 2017 when she sold glasses of lemonade, with the proceeds going to children’s education. ILAH’s Lemon-Aid Foundation now has official charity status.

ECC Chairman Trisha Williams-Singh is appreciative for the gesture by Imani-Leigh and her family and is thankful that the organisation was chosen as the recipient.

“We at the ECC are very excited at this gesture because there are so many children out there who are unable to access online learning because they have no devices. What this young lady is doing is phenomenal and for a child to take this kind of initiative speaks volumes," Williams-Singh told Loop News.

The ECC Chairman pointed to institutions such as Alligator Pond Primary and Infant School, located in a South Manchester fishing village, where most students are not benefiting from online learning because of a lack of devices or inadequate internet access.

“We will rely on our database of infant schools that are certified or which have applied for certification and work with their principals to identify the homes that are in need," Williams-Singh disclosed.

Meanwhile, Gregory Bent, principal of the Alligator Pond Primary and Infant School, is looking forward to the assistance in what he says is one of the poorest communities in Manchester with less than 50 per cent of students accessing the internet.

“Because so many children have no devices or internet, I have to be at school printing worksheets for them and to use Youth Service workers to drop them off at their homes," he said.

“Most of the parents have ‘banger’ phones so we follow up with phone calls to see if the work is done”.

Bent said many of the 128 students at the school have to share devices, with as many as 10 children coming to the school to download work on one phone.

“That is not good as there is no social distancing there. If we could get some devices it would make a huge difference”.

Meanwhile Imani-Leigh Hall says she misses her school friends and outdoor activities, but sees the Virtual Run as a chance for everyone to have fun and contribute to a worthy cause.

 “Don’t feel pressured – just have fun and do it at your pace. You can do 1K each day for three days.  Enter as many times as you want,” the youngster said.

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