Crayons Count is more than a year old and what a time we have had! It’s impossible to recap the Crayons Count campaign in a single page, but we can provide you with some highlights. Be sure to visit the links for articles and photos where indicated to find out more.
In November 2011, Deika Morrison, the founder of Do Good Jamaica, conceptualized Crayons Count when she heard that basic school children across Jamaica did not have crayons. ‘Count’ stands for the fact that we are collecting a LOT of crayons and also for the fact that crayons do ‘count’, they matter.
From November until December, Deika Morrison refined the campaign and set two objectives:
OBJECTIVE 1: Increase awareness of the importance of early childhood education and good early childhood practices.
OBJECTIVE 2: Provide recommended learning resources for basic schools across Jamaica.
On December 6, 2011, the final logo was agreed to. This logo would be something that children think they wrote when they saw it. It would also include two recycle symbols as the ‘o’s to indicate that we were recycling crayon bits donated by children – good for the environment and a great way to get children involved in the campaign.
In December 2011, Crayons Count was soft launched at the Annual All-Ivy Christmas Get Together. Jamaican Ivy Leaguers donated crayons and colouring books for the cause.
On February 13 2012, Crayons Count was officially launched at the Knustford Court Hotel. It was announced that the major sponsors were National Baking Co. Ltd. and The Gleaner Co. Ltd. At this event, the two objectives were shared, as well as how the campaign would work.
We announced that there would curriculum-appropriate content for children in the Gleaner – the first time ever in a national newspaper in the main newspaper.
We also unveiled the kit configuration recommended by the ECC with 13 categories of recommended learning resources: 240 crayons, 10 books, 2 blocks, 2 balls, 4 packs of paper 4 puzzles, 4 manipulatives, 4 kids scissors, 4 puppets, 4 tubs of playdough, 4 tubs of kids paint, 8 paint brushes and 8 glue-sticks.
The target was set: to get Jamaican talking about the importance of early-childhood education and to collect and distribute a kit to every basic school – some 2,700 – that had applied for registration with the ECC. And it had never been done before.
At this event, many companies and organizations pledged their support such as The Environmental Foundation of Jamaica who presented a cheque for J$200,000, Digicel Jamaica Foundation who announced that they would have a staff drive among its support, Book Industry Association of Jamaica whose members provided discounts for purchase as well as donated books. A number of drop-off points were announced as well.
On February 18, 2012, a full page of content for children appeared in The Saturday Gleaner. This initiative was the first time that content appropriate for children – and content that was based on the curriculum – was made available in a main newspaper and not in a children’s section. The page was inspired by the need to ensure that basic school teachers had access to curriculum-appropriate material which was severely lacking at the time. It was also meant for parents and caregivers to do with their children. The Crayons Count Saturday Gleaner Page has appeared every single Saturday since then thanks to the partnership between The Gleaner and National Baking Co. with content provided by Jackmandora.
In the weeks and months after the launch, we were busy with radio and tv appearances explaining to Jamaicans about the campaign, why early childhood education was so very important and what people could do to help. Soon Crayons Count was passing people in traffic on cars and trailers thanks to National Bakery Co..
In March 17 2012, Do Good Jamaica co-hosted it’s first festival with the Book Industry Association of Jamaica. The Do Good Jamaica/Kingston Book Festival was an incredible success with the participation of several foundations and members of the book industry – publishers, authors, distributors etc. The event was a collection and awareness event for Crayons Count. In-kind donations received that day were from Sandals Foundation, Sangster’s/Crayola and from members of the public.
A critical part of the awareness campaign is our events. We provide fun but educational activities for children in the early childhood age group not just for the children to have fun and learn, but for their teachers and parents to see how the recommended learning resources help children. With lots of activities for children, the Do Good Jamaica/Kingston Book Festival was a memorable day with colouring, painting, robotics and more. Even Sesame Street Characters made an appearance thanks to Sandals Foundation!
On March 21, 2012, Deika Morrison dedicated her 40th birthday to having a Crayons Count fundraiser at Bin 26 Winebar. In lieu of gifts, guests brought crayons and other donations for the basic school children. All guests had to sign in with crayons and participate in colouring activities. And because of this unusual event, Crayons Count was in the social pages – another place to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education.
For more about this fundraiser, read this article: Crayons Count for Deika’s 40th
On March 22, 2012, Deika Morrison made a presentation about the Crayons Count campaign at the Rotary Club of Kingston – increasing awareness of the importance of early childhood education and encouraging participation. Unplanned, she was joined in the presentation by Butch Hendrickson, Chairman of National Baking Co. In voicing his support, he informed the public that National had pledged $30 million to the campaign. For more about that announcement, read this article: $30 Million Makes Crayons Count
At the end of March 2012, The Gleaner kicked off an aggressive editorial campaign to support early childhood education. The editorials on March 25: Stop This Crime Against Children, March 26: Enough Of This Early Childhood Insanity and April 5, 2012: A Constitutional Obligation To Children (the latter two which specifically mentioned Crayons Count) spoke clearly on the subject. The Gleaner also had other articles about the topic as well as facts about the early childhood sector displayed prominently throughout the newspaper for weeks. Starting April 1, 2012, Deika Morrison wrote a weekly column in The Gleaner for 9 weeks addressing various issues in the early childhood sector. These articles were:
- Is Jamaica Fit For Children?
- Why Crayons Count
- Empower The Nation’s Children To Secure The Future
- Pressure For Primary School Students – Pupils Face Four Prime Tests In Six Years
- Jeopardizing Children’s Rights: More Needs To Be Done To Celebrate Our Children
- For The Love Of Our Children – National Children’s Day Now Official In Jamaica
- Collaborating For Change
- Where Are The Children In This Budget Debate?
- Children: The Voiceless Victims
In April 2012, we participated in The Environmental Foundation of Jamaica’s Earth Day event at the zoo. In our tent, we had the proposed recommended learning tools for the children to use. There were children that had never used these tools before, but quickly learned what to do. With the help of volunteers from RBC Jamaica, we engaged the children and encouraged them to explore their creativity and develop their skills. For all children – even those older than the early childhood agree group – the learning tools were great fun.
In Jamaica, May is Child Month. So we were very busy!
On May 1, 2012, we kicked off Child Month with our ‘Wear Primary Colours’ campaign. We got photos by Facebook, Twitter and email from here and abroad with people wearing primary colours for the children.
National Baking Co. unveiled Crayons Count branded bread bags that made their way into homes across the length and breadth of Jamaica in the month of May and beyond.
For Read Across Jamaica Day on May 8, 2012, the Crayons Count team visited with the children at Cecil Boswell Facey Basic School and read many stories with them.
On May 12, 2012, we participated in the annual Nestle School Wellness Fiesta providing a space for children in the early childhood age group to use our learning tools guided by volunteers for the Loving Arms Group.
On May 18, 2012, we co-hosted – with the National Child Month Committee – the national event for the first ever Children’s Day and unveiled the mobile learning concept. Held in the parking lot of The Gleaner, children from basic schools. Ministers Lisa Hanna and Damion Crawford were on hand engaging with the children. Singer Sezi took the children through the ABCs and Jana Bent provided a real treat for the kids with her very animated reading of her book, Shaggy Parrot.
On June 30 2012, we participated in Food For The Poor’s Family Fun Day at the zoo. Food For The Poor is a critical partner in the Crayons Count initiative as they import all the items we donate to schools as learning tools.
On July 18, 2012, we participated in Nelson Mandela Day. This international day of service was being recognized officially in Jamaica for the first time. We chose to organize events with children in a basic school – reading with kids in classrooms, playing with kids in the mobile unit and painting a mural on the wall of the school using the kids own art. Our volunteers had a great time and so did the kids! The day was shared with with the UN Resident Representative, Dr. Arun Kashyap and South African High Commissioner Mathu Joyini, Chairman of National Baking Co., Butch Hendrickson (and staff volunteers from National) and Managing Director of The Gleaner Co. Ltd. , Christopher Barnes (and staff volunteers from The Gleaner).
For incredible photos of the children at play and the mural, have a look at our Facebook album: Nelson Mandela Day and read this article: Jamaica House Basic School Benefits From Nelson Mandela International Day
In July 2012, the United States Embassy in Jamaica held training for 70 teachers in Jamaica – 5 in each of the 14 parishes. The training was focused on the importance of the Crayons Count learning recommended learning tools and ideas for engaging students with them to meet curriculum objectives. Workshops were lead by early childhood specialist Olivia Wilmot and American psychologists Professor Sandee McClowry and Dr Mark Spellman. For more about this training initiative, read this article: Crayons Do Count – US Embassy Supports Initiative To Improve Early Childhood Education
In September and October 2012, it was time to assemble the learning kits. The amazing staff of National Baking Co. volunteered time before and after their shifts.
For more photos of this incredible undertaking to pack 3,000 boxes with learning tools for basic school children, have a look at our Facebook album Crayons Count Kit Packing At National.
In October and November 2012, Crayons Count Learning Kits were distributed to the approximately 2,400 schools all over Jamaica thanks to National Baking Co. And for the first time in history, children all across Jamaica received standardized recommended learning tools to assist in their development.
2013 saw big plans for Crayons Count. Our first outing on March 12,2013 saw Crayons Count on hand at the Caenwood Resource Centre to see the United States Embassy distributing Crayons Count tools to the grateful teachers who came from all over Jamaica to accept their learning kits for the school.
Crayons Count had more to reveal. On March 26, Crayons Count hosted its very first “Teachers, Tots and Tools” Interactive Learning Workshop with basic school teachers and students at the Caenwood Early Childhood Resource Center. The purpose was to show the teachers how to use the tools in the Crayons Count learning kit and include them into daily classroom sessions in a fun and educational way. The lesson, taught by workshop presenter, Shaanii-Grace Robinson took the children and teachers through a lesson tailor for a group of five year olds. The workshop was an absolute success with the children learning and having fun every step of the way.
The teachers at the workshop also benefited from a PowerPoint presentation with each slide focused on a specific Crayons Count tool and its development objectives, a discussion session and a learning kit filled with tools for their schools. It was indeed a great first.
For more about the first Teachers, Tots and Tools Workshop, have a look at our Facebook photo album here. To find out more details about the first Teachers, Tots and Tools Workshop, have a look at our blog post here.
Crayons Count also introduced a new feature in March 2013-the Crayons Count Blog. Filled with information and photos about Crayons Count and its amazing progress, the blog was and still is well received.
April 18 was a great day for Crayons Count and children everywhere. The Continental Baking Company also known as National Baking Co Ltd, a major sponsor of Crayons Count donated $50 million dollars to Crayons Count at an amazing press conference on the grounds of Hope Zoo.
National Baking Co Ltd also donated a brand new truck now famously titled the ‘Learning Lorry’. The Learning Lorry was revealed after speeches and presentations from Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson, Deika Morrison and the Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites at the event. The need for more funding and awareness for early childhood education was the theme of the event and Deika Morrison emphasized the importance of investing in children now for greater rewards for Jamaica in the future.
The lorry is outfitted with Crayons Count tools and plans are underway to share the lorry with the children of Jamaica. National Baking Co Ltd once again, supporting the early childhood education cause.
For more about the $50 Million donation and the learning lorry, have a look at our Facebook photo album here. To find out more details about the National Baking Co Ltd amazing donations, have a look at our blog post here and also this article: National Pumps $50m Worth Of Colour Into Crayons Count
May 2013 was a busy time for Crayons Count as it was Child’s Month. Our first event was Read Across Jamaica Day on May 7th.
Happy faces and quick feet greeted the team as books and minds were open at the Sunrays Educational Centre. The smiles were hard to miss and the children were more than ready to pose for the camera. A donation of a supplemental kit was also given to the centre.
May 9th was another great day with the hosting of another ‘Teachers, Tots and Tools’ Interactive Learning Workshop at the Caenwood Early Childhood Resource Centre. This time, the lesson was aimed at using the learning tools with four year olds. A videographer from the Ministry of Education was there to record the day’s proceedings. The teachers at this session had a first view and tour of the amazing learning lorry.
The teachers had the floor and were actively involved in the discussion with Ms. Shaanii Grace-Robinson. The children used pegs, blocks, paint, crayons, play doh and puzzles.
Each participating school was given a supplemental kit at the end of the session which was greatly appreciated.
For more about Teachers, Tots and Tools- Four Year Olds, have a look at our Facebook photo album here. To find out more details about Teachers, Tots and Tools- Four Year Olds, have a look at our blog post here.
On May 11, 2013, we participated in the annual Nestle School Wellness Fiesta providing a space for children in the early childhood age group to use our learning tools.
On May 17, 2013 the we hosted another great Children’s Day with a new member of the team, the learning lorry. Held at the Shortwood Teachers College, the lorry was being used for the first time. Each infant class spent time in the lorry interacting with each tool. Teachers in training from the college took the lead that day, creating lessons and interacting with the children.
Jana Bent, the singer and author provided a musical treat for the kids with her very animated reading of her book, Shaggy Parrot.
May 18, 2013 was the Food For the Poor Angels of Hope Programme at the Hope Zoo. This annual initiative was enjoyed by over 600 wards and their caregivers from 19 children’s homes islandwide. The children were invited into the lorry to play with the pegs, blocks, puzzles, stacking tools and dry erase boards.
May 21, 2013 was our Teachers, Tots and Tools and Workshop for Three Year Olds at the Caenwood Early Childhood Resource Centre. Another great workshop with the children and teachers learning and growing together.
For more about this Teachers, Tots and Tools Workshop- Three Year Olds, have a look at our Facebook photo album here . To find out more details about this Teachers, Tots and Tools Workshop- Three Year Olds, have a look at our blog post here
It was summer time and the first week in July brought about a bright and fun time in the life of Crayons Count.
Crayons Count and Inscape Foundation partnered to use art therapy techniques to increase creativity, expression and socialization with children in the early childhood age group. In this pilot project, every morning this week Crayons Count have had 5 and 6 year olds paired with awesome volunteers in the Crayons Count Learning Lorry which was stationed at one of the Mustard Seed Communities. Using the Crayons Count learning tools, the kids have built with blocks, made art with crayons (learning to mix colours), play doh (making faces and body parts) and paper tearing. We had puppet shows, dance and movement. The project lasted from July 11-18th.
We even had a fun-filled day at the zoo to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day, July 18. Can you say ‘best day ever?’
To view more photos of this amazing day, check out our Facebook album here.
August 2013 was a busy time for all. The back to school rush was upon us but that didn’t slow us down. Crayons Count, in association with the United States Embassy Jamaica, presented ‘Back 2 Basics’, a free workshop for early childhood educators and administrators held on Thursday, August 29th 9:30-5:00 P.M. and Friday, August 30 th 8:30-1:00 P.M. in two locations – Kingston and Montego Bay respectively. The workshop was totally play-based, hands on, interactive and fun. It featured a Teachers, Tots and Tools session and a special guest presenter, Lisa Murphy, the ‘Ooey Gooey’ Lady. It was a time for play and a time for learning. The workshops were sponsored by National Baking Co., CB Group, Rainforest Seafoods, Wisynco Group, The Gleaner Co. Ltd. and Fundaciones.
August 31 st to September 4 th 2013 was a busy busy busy time at Crayons Count with packing and distribution. The National Baking Company not only donated $50 million dollars towards the purchase of the tools but also packed and distributed 3000 kits to basic schools island wide; that is approximately 2700 basic schools and 130,000 children. Can you say Wow? Thank you National!
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September has seen the start of a brand new type of event. Crayons Count has been taking it island wide. What is it? The Crayons Count Teacher Training School tour rolled out Tuesday, September, 17 at St. Boniface ECDC and Thursday, September, 19 at Joy Town Learning Academy. Titled ‘Teachers, Tots and Tools, the tour will be all island and has started in Kingston and St Andrew. The tour involves the Learning Lorry travelling to various basics schools where teachers are given the opportunity to be a part of a teaching session using the Crayons Count tools and gain valuable insight into how to plan and carry out lessons.
2014 burst unto to the scene and Crayons Count welcomed another year rallying for the early childhood cause. January saw Crayons Count receiving a very special surprise: a ‘Thank You’ banner done by all the students at Bethel Baptist Basic. The teachers were so thankful for the learning tools AND the teacher training inside the Learning Lorry, that they wished to thank us in a BIG way. We just had to visit them and collect our gorgeous banner.
We scarcely had time to breathe before we were off on another adventure. To celebrate March as Literacy Month, Crayon Count in partnership with the Rotary Club of Kingston organized and had five amazing reading sessions with basic schools in the parishes of Kingston & St Andrew. The Rotarians were out in the number as every reading session brought out a new set of Rotarians who were just as excited as the students to read and listen.
Chosen by random selection,the basic schools had children who were bright, attentive and eager. In one session, students were shouting out, “Uncle Steve, Uncle Steve. read another book”. In another, one Rotarian received a shy kiss on the cheek as ‘thanks’ for the great story. See the highlights of each session below and check out each album on Facebook.
Sunrise Early Childhood Development Centre was the place to be on May 6 as even more Rotarians volunteered to read in celebrating of ‘Read Across Jamaica Day’. See photos here
However, we had another great big surprise for the children. A new song! Do Good Jamaica created a brand new song on manners titled, “Jamaican Mannaz”. A catchy and helpful little tune ,”Jamaican Mannaz” feat. Giomar Mitchell, Jana Bent and Selah Channell helps everyone; both young and old to be mindful of their manners and courteous to others everyday and in every way.
Listen to the song here on SoundCloud, ” Jamaican Mannaz” feat. Giomar Mitchell, Jana Bent and Selah Channell
Crayons Count Read Across Jamaica Day 2014 was the perfect setting to play our song for the very first time. The children loved it! if you don’t believe us, check out a special video below to see how happy everyone was.