Sint Maarten Children Enjoy Planting Trees at Youth Council Association
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten – June 6, 2019: Caribbean Lottery volunteers joined children on the grounds of the Rupert I. Maynard Community Centre in St. Maarten on Friday, May 10, for a tree planting session. The Centre is the home of the Sint Maarten Youth Council Association (SMYCA) and the site of an IGT Global Services After School Advantage (ASA) Centre established by IGT/Caribbean Lottery.
The children were happy to plant three trees: mango, grapefruit, as well as a frangipani that will help beautify the surroundings. Caribbean Lottery also supplied soil, to make sure that the roots were firmly anchored.
“We have been teaching the kids about where their food comes from,” said Mrs. Connie Francis-Gumbs, Director of the SMYCA. “It’s also important for them to understand the whole process of producing food,” added Mrs. Francis-Gumbs. “That is, from planting to reaping. We are also encouraging the children to eat more fruits, and we hope that we will see the trees begin to bear fruit in the next two years or so.” Since the weather is currently very dry, it will be important to keep them watered.
The IGT Global Services After School Advantage (ASA) Centre at the Sint Maarten Youth Council Association provides computers and supporting technology for children who might not normally have easy access to technology, seeking to bridge the “digital divide.” Mrs. Francis-Gumbs pointed out that up to fifty students per day make use of the Community Centre and the computer lab for their homework and research for projects. The building was damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, but remained open despite challenges after the storm. Caribbean Lottery funded the repair of furniture and workstations, and the new ASA Centre was opened on July 24, 2018.
Ms Paula Williams, Site Operations Manager at Caribbean Lottery, noted that food safety and security are critically important, especially for young people. “We are happy to support our partner, the Sint Maarten Youth Council Association, by planting some trees that will benefit the children,” she said. “At Caribbean Lottery, we recognize that our ASA Centres are more than simply computer labs. We also seek to make a positive impact on the lives of those who use them, in other ways.”
The SMYCA caters for children aged as young as four years old, up to the age of eighteen. As part of the rebuilding process, Mrs. Francis-Gumbs pointed out: “We are planning to expand our garden.”