“The GraceKennedy Education Run is not about merely keeping fit, having a competitive event, or even winning. It is about education; and more specifically the education of our young people in distressed communities,” Mr Moss-Solomon said.
In his address, Moss-Solomon spoke to the formation of the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, which he said was "forged in the fires of the mid-70s and fueled by the blood of men and women who died in the streets, and of parentless children who grew to endure a similar fate."
To address the societal ills of the 70s, GraceKennedy’s Chair & CEO, Carlton Alexander, Company Accountant Sam Richards, and Moss-Solomon, began the "Grace and Staff movement" on a sidewalk at the intersection of Harbour and Hanover Streets. Their action was followed by an all-staff meeting at the Jamaica Conference Centre. At that meeting, the staff committed to voluntary contributions, to be matched by the Company at a 2:1 ratio. Initially, the contributions went towards small loans for funding micro-projects. In the 1980s, the focus shifted more directly to education, he outlined, as the Company realized that better outcomes could be had with dedication to working directly with the youth in their educational development, as opposed to only giving grants.
Over the nearly four decades since its formation, the Foundation has assisted thousands of children; many of those have won scholarships to local and overseas institutions. Currently there are over 130 children pursuing tertiary education at undergraduate and post-graduate levels.
Today there are six educational centres, including a state-of-the-art GraceKennedy/Parade Gardens Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Centre on Water Lane.
Education, he emphasized, remains the golden key to maximizing opportunities for children in depressed communities, and in that regard, he turned to the Foundation's upcoming GK Education 5K Run event as a critical means of providing this funding.
Reiterating the underlying theme for the Foundation’s upcoming fund raiser, "This Is Why We Run" he closed with an appeal for the service club members to support the event. "We need ten thousand or more to participate. We need you to bring others to share in the educational achievements of our children. We need you to learn the lessons of love that we get back in multiples from our children. And we need you to help with the transformation that will allow our children to be safer, to be top achievers and useful citizens," he said.
The Education Run event this year takes place on Sunday, July 9 in downtown Kingston and incorporates walking, cycling and wheelchair categories, and, most recently, rowing in addition to the traditional 5K Run. It is scheduled to start at 6 a.m. on Port Royal Street.
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Klao Bell Lewis
Head of Corporate Communications
Tel. (876) 809-1121