Sandals Foundation Invests in Community Youth Center
Creating safe spaces to thrive
The basketball and multi-purpose playing courts at Buckfield Playfield, located in the heart of Ocho Rios in Jamaica, have received a major facelift and renovations to better serve residents across the parish of St. Ann. Following an approximately US$50,000 investment from the Sandals Foundation, the center is better than ever.
The center has been a safe space for youths to spend their time and a major hub for hosting friendly games, sports competitions, and entertainment events. The upgraded facility now boasts a resurfaced basketball and multipurpose court with accompanying netball equipment, newly-constructed spectator stands, installed lights to improve night events and security, fencing, and colorful murals to brighten the space.
Director of Operations at the Sandals Foundation, Karen Zacca, says the project commenced in 2019 and has been a labor of love aligned with the Foundation’s commitment to community development and engaging youth through sports.
“Spaces that encourage sports bring residents together to play, build relationships, develop lifelong skills, and are important to the health of a community. Outside each of our immediate families, our communities help give us a sense of belonging, and the Sandals Foundation will always give high priority to creating safe spaces for our communities to thrive.”
Public Relations Manager at Sandals Ocho Rios Resort, Lyndsay Isaacs, who coordinated logistics says the team ensured to employ the skills of local contractors and laborers to execute the renovations.
“Projects that serve the community must also employ the services of the community. As much as is possible, the Foundation engages local professionals to engender a sense of ownership in the development process as well as to help support the livelihoods of those who are employed.”
The multiple murals, strategically positioned across the sports field, were drawn by local artist Zara and painted by Sandals Resorts guests and team members who volunteered during outreach activities before the onset of the coronavirus.
“This is a family affair for us, and the Sandals Foundation is the vehicle through which our resort guests, team members, travel agents, and partners get an opportunity to serve the communities in which we operate. I am very happy with the outcome of this project and have no doubt the people of St. Ann will use it well.”
Ocho Rios resident basketballer, Dehalo Sappleton, says the renovated courts will help the local teams earn their stripes on their home ground.
“This kind of donation is greatly appreciated, and we will treat it like it’s our own. Some of the most talented basketballers come from Ocho Rios, and we often go to Kingston and Montego Bay to make our name. This renovated court now gives us the opportunity to make our name in our hometown.”
And, Kurt Dale, Sports Officer for the parish of St. Ann with the Institute of Sports, says the renovated facilities will help budding netballers hone their skills and develop the level of participation in the sport.
“We find that up to 50% of persons do not want to further their skills in netball, because they do not have facilities to play. A number of the girls have to travel a long distance to be able to play, but with courts like this readily available, it will be much easier for them to go out and participate.”