Trench Town education gets new life

Jamaica is emboldened with rich history.

A proud people, Jamaica boasts itself as a country where the sweet sounds of reggae were born and much more.

With all the riches assaulting mainstream media, it is hard to assume that within the country there is a struggle felt amongst the people. Within the small town of Trench Town, students struggle to attend school due to the high cost of school supplies, transportation and even lunch.

Acting as a buoy so each child is able to receive the education he or she deserves, Christine Coley — founder and executive director of Trench Town For Life — has made it her mission to ensure that each child has a pencil, notebook and good meal amongst many other things.

Utilizing the power of good networking, Coley reached out to various organizations including Rapid Realty NYC and the Charles Hyatt Foundation who hit the ground running to collect backpacks and supplies that would then be given to the children at the school. “I adopted Boys Town All Age school and was able to provide over 200 donated backpacks with supplies in them and close to 2000 donated school supplies to the school itself through generous donations from the Rapid Realty NYC and Charles Hyatt Foundation,” Coley said.

Coley, Jamaican American, is deeply rooted in Trench Town and its primary school. Utilized as a meeting place for the community, Coley took the school under the wing to not only benefit the community but to also celebrate the legacy of family members who attended the institution. “My father grew up in Trench Town, I have eight siblings – two of which were murdered in Trench Town. I have had seven family members who attended the school I adopted. It’s a part of my community even though I didn’t grow up in Trench Town,” she said.

Since her program began in 2013 – operating under the umbrella organization of For Life Inc, – the serial business woman have set her eyes on strengthening the education and resources available to the school.

Utilizing a monthly event, Yoga For Life, funds raised are used to help sustain projects in the school.Happening simultaneously in New York and Miami, NamasteFly, GoGreenFashionista, Impulse Nation and Chris Coley Communications handle the planning for the monthly fundraiser.

“Right now, a portion of the Yoga for Life proceeds are going toward finishing the library in terms of painting and building shelves,” she said. “Through my UK advisory council member I was connected to an organization called Build on Books in London who has donated and shipped 3000 books to the school.”

A smaller library is available in Trench Town with books but Coley believes that reading needs to be fostered as a fundamental tool in schools while the children are still young.

Relying on sponsorships, donations and partnerships, events like Yoga for Life and donations are what help to sustain the programs.

“We’ve accomplished quite a bit since 2013 when I launched,” Coley explained. “I’m a business woman outside of this charity and I am a power networker so I’ve been leveraging my network.”

Her ability to network and utilize social media has armored her with strong connections that lend a helping hand whether it is through establishing a new connection or actually donating. “Through Facebook and other contacts I was able to connect to a Jamaican spice company in Portland, Oregon who is now donating 24 bags with school supplies,” she said.

In each bag, while students will be pleased to see the new notebooks, pens and other items, an inspirational message from the particular donor will also be included. Coley charges each donor to include these messages as a way to further push the students to take their education seriously.

Coley’s main focus is completing the library and ensuring the meal program is fully functional – the 30 donated computers will also be delivered to establish an updated computer lab. Aside from school supplies, the cost of breakfast or lunch can amount to be too much preventing children from attending school. “The meal program is really important. I was talking to various people in the community about what they need and a lot of kids don’t go to school because they don’t have lunch money. Yoga for Life is going to help with the sustainability of that program throughout the year,” she said.

With partnershis with organizations like Feeding Children Everywhere — an organization providing green based meal packets balanced as a full meal — providing a year’s worth of packets alongside Coley’s efforts children will have more opportunities to focus on the real task at hand: learning.

“The school is not at performance and it’s out of the goodness of the people of the community that band together and want good things. These children are no less deserving or capable of any other child,” Coley expressed.

Keeping the ball rolling, Coley’s Trench Town For Life will host their next Yoga for Life event August 29 at Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center located on Lexington Avenue between Ralph Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard.

Follow Coley and Trench Town For Life online at www.forlifeinc.org/trenchtownforlife.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aoliv[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.

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