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Early Childhood Commission’s (ECC) Back-to-School Fair and Featuring ‘Play & Stay’ Tennis

Coach Evan Williams, having fun whilst manning the Foundation’s Booth at the ECC’s Back to School Fair. 

Friday, August 21 at Emancipation Park was a great venue for ‘scholars' of all ages. Everything to do with ‘Back-to-School’ was happening throughout the Park in a number of different booths one of which was hosted by the Phillip & Christine Gore Family Foundation (P&CGFF).

Seasoned Tennis Coach, Evan Williams, on behalf of the Foundation was manning the booth with a mini lawn tennis court and net set up at the rear. Coach Williams, ably assisted by Ms. Valencia White, a coach in her own right, were kept busy all day with visiting parents and kids alike who, amongst other things, wanted to know the link between Gore Developments/Gore Homes and tennis.

The quick answer is Phillip Gore, as founder and Executive Director of Gore Developments Limited, in conjunction with his wife, Christine set up the Foundation acting in partnership with the ECC to make every effort to assist in upgrading the educational and developmental opportunities for children entering Jamaica’s school system. Specifically, the P&CGFF is taking a ‘hands-on’ approach by working directly with several basic schools in Kingston and Hanover, to help each school manifest and comply with the 12 Standards stipulated by the ECC.

Coach Evan Williams at the Gore Homes/P&CGFF Booth – the Foundation focuses on the very young in Jamaica’s basic schools.

The Foundation uses ‘Play and Stay’ tennis, as one if its main tools in its mission. Why tennis? For starters, the sport teaches good hand/eye coordination, positive social interaction, self-esteem, self-control and concentration. Studies have shown that participating in a sport like tennis at an early age, actually helps the brain to develop in areas such as problem-solving and critical thinking.

Tennis is an ideal way for students to begin to gain the mind-set and skills that will help them as they make their way through the educational system then head out into life plus,t he sport can and does provide a direct pathway to a university education. Several Jamaican student athletes have attended US universities on full tennis scholarships.

This exciting and fun initiative for basic school children is the same one that Michelle Obama has implemented as part of her work in the USA’s school system. Play & Stay has been designed to teach tennis in a way that maximises mental, social and physical development in young children using lightweight racquets and big, colourful balls.

All the booth’s visitors were keen to know about the Foundation’s activities especially with regard to tennis in schools. By the time they had spoken with Coach Williams, everyone related to a school, in any way, form or fashion, wanted his or her school to be part of the Play & Stay tennis programme!

Youngsters in action with Play & Stay Tennis on the Foundation’s ready-to-roll tennis net at the ECC’s Back-to-School Fair.

Coach Williams reported that all the children gathered showed a tremendous interest in the sport and wanted to play continually! After Coach instilled the requisite discipline required for their participation and the game of tennis, the day was a delight and needless to say, tennis was the star!

The children enjoyed themselves to the full with their parents on hand, also showing a keen interest and offering loud support. Special gift packages were handed out to the participants who displayed the most potential and best behavior. Free tennis lessons at the Pegasus were organised for persons visiting the booth who presented the flyers, handed out previously, and denoted as a prize winner.

The Honorable Ronnie Thwaites, Minister of Education, also visited and spoke with Assistant Coach White, while Coach Williams was busy hitting balls with the kids on the court. The Minister was indeed pleased to learn more and most encouraging for the programme to expand, expressing his best wishes for its continued success.
All in all, a really great day for the ECC, the children and especially, Play & Stay tennis.