Words by Jesse Serwer
Photos by Matthew Henry
Breakfast, sports equipment and a comfortable classroom to learn in are amenities many students take for granted. But for some schoolkids in Jamaica, these basics are luxuries currently unavailable to them. The Groove Campus Tour is a new project assisting students in raising funds for improvements like these, while bringing live music into their schools. Connecting reggae and dancehall acts with student organizations promoting education, creativity and social responsibility, the tour is the latest philanthropic effort of dynamic dancehall soul queen Cherine Anderson. Anderson, known for songs like “Good Love” and “Talk If Yuh Talking” (and, way back when, her role in the movie Dancehall Queen), formed the Reach One Child (ROC) Foundation when she was just 20. A decade later, Groove Campus is another outgrowth of the foundation, which provides mentorship and need-based scholarships to young people in Jamaica.
The inaugural tour launched last month at the Queen’s School in St. Andrew, where the Interact Club, Student Council and Guidance Department sought Groove Campus’ aid in launching a project to supply breakfast to students unable to afford it. “It was brought to our attention by students of the Interact Club as well as the staff that there were student who, because of lack of funds, were unable to sit exams or frequently missed school,” says Natanell Francis, coordinator for the tour. The April 28th event featured a lively performances from Ch4se, Chevaughn Clayton, Martei Korley and Stephanie Wallace as well as Cherine herself, and music from Quantegy Sound System (consisting of DJ Marley, Patrick, Bunny Slaughter and Ris). And there were some lively performance from the Queen’s School girls, too.
The tour is continuing on with stops at Munro College, Holy Trinity High School, Excelsior High School, GC Foster College, Excelsior High and, today, at Rollington Town Primary. Each school has a different mission. Rollington Town Primary’s “Cool Wi Dung” project seeks to bring ceiling fans to classrooms at Rollington Town Primary. Excelsior High School is raising funds for science and technology equipment. Cherine Anderson’s Cherine TV collaborated with student organizers at each school to highlight each project in video webisodes, which you can see here.
Interested in helping to support the Groove Campus’ cause? Live in or near Kingston? On May 29th, Groove Campus is hosting an Open Campus fundraiser, which includes a cookout, unplugged performance from Cherine Anderson and friends at Nanook in Kingston. The bi-annual tour will also reconvene again in the fall. Students, teachers and alumni interested in bringing Groove Campus to their school are encouraged to nominate a project through the Groove Campus website.
In order to follow up on the progress of the students’, Groove Campus has also launched a radio show giving them “a platform to talk about their school projects, share ideas and most importantly be an active participant in the positive change that they want to see for their schools and their community,” Anderson says. The Groove Campus radio show airs Wednesdays from 5 to 6pm on Jamaica’s Bess 100 FM.
See the photos from the Queen’s School’s “Breakfast Project” event below and, for, more information on Groove Campus, visit: www.cherinetv.com/groovecampus and follow them on social media @groovecampus.