CAY HILL--Beyond Writing Foundation (BWF) kicked off its "Beyond Storytelling/Reading" project at the paediatric ward of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) on Tuesday afternoon.
It is the aim of the pilot project, which will run until October 31, to enhance the reading and listening skills of children who are admitted to hospital, as well as to children at the community centres in St. Peters and Dutch Quarter.
The project is geared towards enhancing the reading and listening skills of children. Besides providing children with some quality time and recreation the project also serves an educational goal as the art of storytelling is an integral part of Caribbean culture, BWF President Loekie Morales explained.
"Reading on a regular basis will enhance good understanding which is fundamental in the development of every child. Story telling enhances not only the listening skills, but also the imagination of children and the understanding of other situations and cultures," she explained.
Morales said the project started with information sessions for staff at SMMC and community centres, as well as a session for aspiring story tellers and readers.
Ten of these readers, many of them (former) teachers, were selected to participate in the programme and were officially presented during Tuesday's kick-off event.
Most of them are already well-versed in story telling or reading at schools and organizations.
The volunteers will be visiting SMMC's paediatric ward twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"At first I thought this was (just another) project, but seeing this group here and some familiar faces; these are people who are going to read from the heart. This is much more than 'a project.' Management and staff of SMMC are very grateful for this and we thank you for this initiative," said SMMC Manager Patient Care Antonio Pantophlet.
BWF has purchased two boxes of books. One of these will be used for reading by the story tellers. The other box is for young patients who can borrow books to read independently. Morales handed over the sets of books to Head of the Paediatric Ward Gwendolyn Arndell.
The story tellers and readers will be visiting Dutch Quarter and St. Peters Community Centres once a month on a Saturday. The Community Centres will recruit children ages 5 to 13 in these two districts for the story telling events.
This pilot project has been made possible by contributions from Cooperating Funds ("Samenwerkende Fondsen") and the Representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg VNP. "They saw the need and value of this type of project for the community," said Morales.