Having the right tools for school can make all the difference in a child’s education. In developed countries, we often take basic essentials like backpacks, pencils, and books for granted. One of the core objectives of the Sunwing Foundation is to encourage youth education and development in the destinations we serve. As part of this commitment, we have launched the Flying Start initiative to provide students at local schools across our destinations all the essential tools and building blocks for a successful education. The program collects new and gently-used books and Sunwing Airlines flies them down to schools in need of such materials. We also have a campaign where children are provided with a new backpack filled with all the essentials needed for a productive day at school.
Recently, the Sunwing Foundation partnered with Sisters Keeper Elite Basketball to give kids in Jamaica a summer camp experience for the first time. This took place during Caribbean Hoopfest in Montego Bay, where players from the team travelled to run drills and coordinate hosted activities for over 150 children. The basketball camp provided a unique experience for students from Spicy Hill Early Childhood Institute in Trelawny and Robin’s Nest Orphanage in Montego Bay. The children who attended also received athletic jerseys and backpacks full of school supplies donated by the Sunwing Foundation, to ensure that they started off the new school year right. They also had the opportunity to watch rising basketball stars from across North America and Jamaica play as part of the tournament.
The Sunwing Foundation also joined forces with Books Give Us Wings (a Toronto-based charity established by seasoned North York elementary school teacher and Jamaican-born, Myrna Gabbidon, that promotes children’s literacy in the Caribbean) to fly just under 3,000 new and gently-used children’s books to Jamaica in time for Read Across Jamaica Day.
The Flying Start initiative has also attracted celebrities to participate in the cause. Kingston-born, Toronto-based supermodel Stacey McKenzie—best known as runway coach on America's Next Top Model--worked alongside the Sunwing Foundation to hand-deliver backpacks with donated books and school supplies to the students of Spicy Hill Early Childhood Institute.
How to Get Involved
If you have a collection of books or school materials to donate or if you represent a school or local youth organization that would like to participate in the Flying Start program please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!