Parents in Union Gardens and surrounding communities in South West St Andrew have learned to nurture their children’s bodies and minds through a social intervention program initiated by Union Gardens Infant School.

In addition to an outreach program to help build the parenting skills of women in the community, the school has also enlisted local and international partners to promote healthy eating habits.

Recently, at a school reception, 40 families from the general community received grocery packages courtesy of the American Friends of Jamaica, Sanmerna Paper Products, the Seprod Foundation and the National Baking Company Foundation.

School principal Gracie-Ann Moss-Solomon said the presentation was part of a violence prevention initiative supported by the AFJ through its youth nutrition program.

She explained, “The Union Gardens Infant team engaged women in the community to empower them to provide both positive and strong values ​​within the home. As part of this initiative, we sought to provide assistance to mothers in the community who were experiencing difficulties, while promoting values ​​within the home, such as: healthy eating, showing affection to children and non-violent solutions (to problems that arise).

“We also provided them with information on applying for PATH assistance, as well as advice on finding jobs and acquiring things like their TRN and NIS cards.”

AFJ Executive Director Caron Chung, who was on hand for the distribution of the packages, said the AFJ Youth Nutrition Program was created to reach children at the developmental stage as they adopt healthy habits that they will carry on into adulthood.

She noted that “Supplementing the diets of families in the community will help provide balanced meals that will allow children to increase their attention span, which will translate into better school results. Good nutrition is the first line of defense against many childhood illnesses that can scar a child for life.

Union Gardens Infant School was opened in September 2015 following an initiative led by Dr. Glen Christian, President of the Cari-Med Group of Companies, to build a state-of-the-art school in the community. The facility now accommodates approximately 150 students aged three and a half to six years from Union Gardens and neighboring communities, such as Tower Hill, Waterhouse, Payne Land, Greenwich Farm, Maxfield Ave., Whitfield Town and Spanish Town Road.

The school made headlines at the start of the pandemic when one of the teachers, McKoy Phipps, started an initiative to set up chalkboard work boards on the streets of the community to help students who weren’t going to school and couldn’t participate in online classes.