Cotton Tree Foundation’s board member Allyson Hamel-Smith and chariman, Samuel Martin.

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Rooted in hope

By Verdel Bishop

For two decades the Cotton Tree Foundation (CTF) has been a dynamic force in education and community initiatives.  Last Friday the CTF’s closest supporters, friends and stakeholders gathered at the Foundation, located at Spanish Acres, Ariapita Road in St Anns’s to celebrate its 20th anniversary.  The CTF continues to improve life chances for the residents of St Ann’s, Cascade, Belmont, East Dry River and environs through the vehicle of education and through strategic partnerships with private and public sector enterprises.  

Speaking at the 20th anniversary celebration CTF Chairman, Samuel Martin said the CTF continues to serve vulnerable communities -- mainly children between age three and 13 and their families-- with access to quality education as well as a link and resource to undiagnosed learning literacy problems through several programmes in a rich learning environment.  

Martin outlined the CTF’s extensive  programmes in education, cultural, community and sporting activities which include Early Childhood Care and Education Service Learning Programmes, which provide professional screening services to students;  a home work centre which provides a safe and quiet environment for study equipped with remedial teachers  who work with children requiring supplemental literacy coaching; an annual vacation camp and sports programme; legal aid clinic and parenting support.   

The CTF compound is outfitted with a basketball court which is fully utilised by the community and which also hosts intra-community competitions. Martin said the CTF plans to engage the community by developing various sporting programmes.  “The CTF recognises that a huge amount of wasted potential in the form of talented children exists.  We believe in creating opportunity for children in sport and the arts, the basketball court is utilised by the community but the CTF also plans to further engage the community by developing a full sporting programme in the future. The Ministry of Sport has supported some of these initiatives,” Martin said. 

Trinity Tags Steel Orchestra provided entertainment for the gala celebration.

In April 1993, it was agreed that the main goal of the CTF was to help alleviate some of the more pressing problems affecting the client communities. The concept was further developed by the late Desmond Allum, S C who at the time was the Member of Parliament for the St Ann’s area. According to Allum the Foundation’s logo was based on the Cotton Tree because of  “its indomitable nature and its nurturing qualities”. 

The single, giant silk cotton tree which stands where the Belmont Circular Road meets the Queen’s Park Savannah was the original symbol for the Foundation. Silk cotton trees, also known as Java cotton or kapok trees, are known for their resilience and moisture-resistance. Despite the many obstacles the group of determined friends and colleagues has faced, such as bureaucracy and lack of funding, the Foundation has persevered. Its initiatives are welcome additions in the communities they serve and have indeed become beacons of hope.

The CTF continues to invite concerned citizens, private and corporate, to partner, volunteer and sponsor various programmes in the development of our client communities by offering financial support on an as-needed or continual basis. 

To assist contact 

info@thecottontree.org 

or call 623-5120.

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