Our Children's Safety, Our Priority

  • Education
  • Health
  • Women & Gender
  • Jamaica
This project is led by Terina McDowell, a Volunteer from West Virginia

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The “Girls on Track” project is aimed at providing a safe area for girls to participate in after-school activities that will assist in positive physical, emotional, social and mental development in a secure environment on the school’s play field. The completion of the fencing project will allow for the implementation of programs that will help young girls to build habits that will lead to a healthy life. The area being fully enclosed will undoubtedly provide the physical space that will facilitate this. “Girls on Track” club will meet after-school on a weekly basis and allow meetings during school hours on Fridays. Teachers, community members, and a volunteer track coach will be assisting the girls during this time. The area is currently unfenced which leaves the field exposed to outside dangers such as unwanted farm animals and stray pets. While the boys don’t mind this and view it as an opportunity to frolic with the unwanted visitors, the girls are fearful of using the field. The girls limit themselves to a small area on the field where they can quickly run to the safety of their classroom should they see an animal. This therefore limits amount of physical health time the girls have in relation to their male counterparts. This limitation can lead to negative results on their health. The lack or limited physical exercise can cause weight gain, unhealthy eating habits, anxiety and depression. The project therefore is of vital importance to the physical, emotional and social development of the girls.

The school compound is currently about 45% fenced. The community and school have begun having fundraisers and community events to help accumulate funds and resources to get the safety and security fence off the ground. The School Board, Staff, and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) have all expressed their desire to help with the project. The principal, project partner, and Peace Corps Volunteer will be responsible for the logistics of gathering materials, organizing work days, and providing lunch. The PTA will be helping gathering the community volunteers and parents for the construction phase of the project. The construction of the security fence will be completed by three skilled and three unskilled workers. The skilled workers will be responsible for the actual construction of the fence which includes, measuring and laying the foundation/ block, setting the post/wrapping the fence material. Unskilled workers will be mixing mortar and digging the foundation. Community members will be volunteering by helping to dig the foundation and carrying mortar and other materials to the skilled workers while the work is in progress. The community has already come together to begin construction of a Labor Day Project fence around another area of the school and have pledged their support to this project as well. The population in the community is dominated by women who are mostly unemployed so they will be the majority help during the project’s construction. They have put in many hours of labor for the first fencing project thus the same level of support and dedication is expected.

Seeing that the project’s goal is to provide a secured area for young girls to participate in extra curricular activities and an after-school track and field club on school compound is the priority for school staff, parents, and community members. It therefore is a concentrated effort will be made for sustenance. Stakeholders will also be involved that they develop a level of ownership of the project, thus making it their priority to ensure the fence is not damaged by any one. Once the Peace Corps Volunteer ends their service, the Principal and project partner will be overseeing the project to ensure it is not damaged and is fully maintained. The “ Girls on Track” after-school program will be led by school staff, community members with experience in the sport, and a volunteer track coach. The scheduling of the responsibilities and practice days will be maintained by the project partner and designated school staff member. The teachers involvement will help the program grow and expose the female students to the after-school program. Their dedication in and out the classroom is the driving force that allows this project to take shape and become a positive resource that young girls will benefit from.

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